Huge crowd treated to great basketball as Boone, Crockett clash in Jonesborough
By Trey Williams
Daniel Boone and David Crockett high schools could probably field cornhole teams and draw a crowd when they clashed.
Proud partisans were certainly eager to get to Crockett on Friday to watch the Washington County rivals square off in basketball. And a near-capacity turnout didn’t go home shortchanged.
In a battle for first place, Crockett won the girls game 50-45 thanks, in part, to 22 points from freshman shooting guard Brylee Tullock. It took overtime to decide the boys game, which Boone won 63-54 after yet another dazzling display from senior 2,000-point scorer Jamar Livingston (36 points).
Parking spots were becoming scarce some 30 minutes before tipoff for the girls game, which offered plenty of subplots. First-year Boone coach Justin Humphries and third-year Crockett coach Thomas Gouge were teammates on Bobby Snyder’s only state tournament team (1998-99) at Daniel Boone.
Better yet, freshman Andrea Flores, already arguably Boone’s best player, attended Crockett until some two weeks before fall practice began this season. And the Pioneers (3-1, 17-4) and Trailblazers (3-1, 18-5) could have the two best teams in the balanced Big Five Conference.
Crockett might have caught a break when Flores tested positive for strep on Thursday. The doctor advised her not to play but taking an antibiotic made it possible, and she elected to go against her former teammates.
The defense of Bella Ferguson and Gabby Wood would’ve been a challenge for a healthy Flores, who sputtered to a season-low three points.
Tullock, meanwhile, took over late. She hit one of her three 3-pointers to give Crockett a 40-37 lead with 7:24 to go and scored four straight points for a 46-39 lead with 2:10 remaining.
The Pioneers’ advantage was at least five points for the game’s remainder.
“Brylee’s a gamer,” Crockett coach Thomas Gouge said. “The bigger the stage, the better she plays. We’ve seen that all year. … Gabby and Bella did a great job on Andrea.”
Wood also scored eight points, as did athletic 6-foot-1 freshman Aaliyah Story. Wood hit two 3-pointers to help what was an otherwise shaky Crockett team in the early going get out to a 7-3 lead.
“Gabby started off the game with two big threes, which calmed us down,” Tullock said. “And once she hit ‘em, we were like, ‘Oh, it’s not that big of a deal. The crowd’s big, but we can still play.’”
Ferguson, who leads the nation in assists (MaxPreps), tallied twelve assists and six points. Story had 12 rebounds.
Boone got 12 points from Josey Jenkins and 10 apiece from Kyleigh Bacon and Lillie Walters.
“It’s pretty wild that we’re the two smallest schools in the league and we’re battling for first place,” Gouge said. “That says a lot about Washington County and athletics here. … It’s crazy, this atmosphere with 1,800-2,000 people in here and we’re winning this game with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.”
Crockett was 15-for-18 at the foul line while Boone missed 8 of 14 foul shots.
“When it’s a road conference game decided by five points and you miss seven or eight free throws, those are killers,” Humphries said. “We had a few mental lapses on defense that allowed Brylee to get a few good looks there in the second half. And, of course, she bombs the one from what I felt like was half-court. And those are just daggers when you feel like you’ve played pretty decent defense, and then she bombs one in. …
“We look forward to seeing ‘em again in a couple of weeks.”
Boone is playing home games at Boones Creek due to Snyder Gym being damaged when a waterline froze and burst. The fire-code capacity at Boones Creek is 1,300.
Many people who attended the game Friday wouldn’t be able to go to the next one (Feb. 3) if it’s at Boones Creek. And ticket demand figures to be even higher, particularly if a league title is in the balance.
Boone athletic director Danny Good said he wouldn’t rule out changing venues for the rematch.
In the boys game, the large crowd amplified Livingston’s adrenaline, which was bad news for the Pioneers. His 36-point performance included a buzzer-beating 30-footer that gave Boone a 30-24 lead at the half.
“When we first walked in the gym the girls game was already packed,” said Livingston, who played at Science Hill last season. “We were looking around like, ‘Man, this is gonna be a good atmosphere.’ … It was a fun game to play.”
Boone coach Chris Brown said if the rematch is moved away from Boones Creek that he’s not sure Freedom Hall would be a good choice due to being too big.
University High is at home that night against Hampton. Perhaps the game could be played at Science Hill’s old gym or at Sullivan South.
“We’d have to be smart about where we moved it,” Brown said. “We thank the fans for coming out. It’s a special moment when you can play in front of a crowd like that. It was a phenomenal high school environment.”