SPARTA - Sporting events generally are decided in the opening moments but Smith County essentially ended Cannon County's season during a four-minute spurt of the first quarter in the first round of the District 8-AA Tournament at White County High School Thursday.
Cannon County was hoping for an upset that would extend its season but the Owls opened with a bang and rolled to a 63-44 win. The Lions ended their season with a 9-21 mark and had seniors Matthew Turney and Brad Hutchins play their final high school game.
Jarrett Melton led the Lions with 18 points. He was the only Cannon County player with double figures. Cody Young added five. Alex Davenport and Brad Hutchins scored four each. Jordan Craighead led Smith County with 18. He scored 12 of them in the first quarter.
Davenport's short jumper gave the Lions a 4-3 lead with 6:52 remaining in the first quarter but things changed drastically from there. Smith County hit just one of its first three shots but connected on 10 straight attempts after that.
Five of those 10 straight field goals were of the 3-point variety with Jordan Craighead knocking down three straight to start the avalanche. Not only was Smith County shooting at a torrid pace, but Cannon County was struggling mightily during the same stretch.
Smith County hit 10 straight field goals before misfiring on its final attempt of the first quarter. The Owls were 10-of-14 for a sizzling 71 percent. They hit all six of their 3-pointers for the game in the opening quarter and were 6-of-13 from beyond the arc for the game.
Cannon County, on the other hand, was 18-of-48 from the field for 38 percent.
"Smith County put on a shooting clinic in that first quarter," Cannon County Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. "Several of those shots were contested and they just made them. When we didn't get out on the shooter in time they made us pay. (Craighead) really got them going."
The Lions never laid down. Hustle plays by Hutchins and a spirited performance by Melton helped Cannon County display a competitive fervor even after the early damage was done. The game was virtually even the final three quarters with Smith County outscoring the Lions 37-36.
"I'm proud of the guys for the way they competed and worked in this game," Rigsby said. "They hit us hard early with those big shots but our guys hung in there and kept trying to make something happen. We improved in some areas this year, but we also have a lot of improvement to make moving forward. The good thing is so many of these players gained valuable experience."