Wildcats end season with heartbreaker
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
The Tharptown Wildcats’ very successful season came to an abrupt end Tuesday night at Tanner High School. Just like last year, the Tanner Rattlers prevented Tharptown from advancing to the Northwest Regionals.
Last year the Rattlers had to come to Tharptown and barely escaped – winning on a last-second layup. The outcome this year was much less intense but no less disappointing for Tharptown, as they fell hard to Tanner, 73-46.
“I hate it for these kids,” said Tharptown Coach Jonathan Odom. “This group has had such a good run for so long – we just got the wrong end of the draw while they were in high school. Tanner is probably the best team we’ve played all year, and we’ve played some good competition. After they beat us at the buzzer last year, they went to the final four in Birmingham. I would expect no less from them this year.”
The Wildcats will have to sit and watch as two teams they had a combined record of 5-1 play in the regionals (Mars Hill and Phil Campbell).
“Basketball is all about matchups,” said Odom. “For the past two years we’ve been matched up with the best at an early stage in the bracket.”
Early foul trouble kept the Wildcats from getting any rhythm or momentum in the game. Three of Tharptown’s starters had three fouls by halftime – Max Nolen, Bailey Motes and Mikey Rosson. Nolen picked up his third foul just one minute into the second quarter.
“It definitely made a difference,” said Odom. “We just never could get going, and once we got in foul trouble, we had a hard time keeping up.”
Tanner led Tharptown 10-7 at the end of the first quarter but extended that lead to 29-17 by halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Tanner was in complete control, 46-24.
Bailey Motes led Tharptown with 15 points. Blake Gray followed with 14 points. Mikey Rosson had 10 points. Braden Key and Nolen had four points each. Nathan Chaney finished with three points.
Tharptown finished with a 25-6 record.