HIXSON, Tenn. – Tyner captured its first win of the season at District 6-AA foe Hixson on Tuesday, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t one of the Rams’ prettiest performances.
The Wildcats, who never led, trimmed their deficit to three points on two occasions in the second half, but Tyner (1-2, 0-1) managed to hold on for a 72-61 victory.
“A win is a win; I’ll take it,” Tyner coach Gerald Harris said. “I’ve got some guys that aren’t coachable right now, they’re trying to do it on their own. One thing we’ve done in the past is pride ourselves on defense, and defense really took a back seat to all the ugliness I saw.”
Hixson pulled to within 40-37 on a basket by D’Mondte Smith with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter, but Tyner freshman DeVonte Jones answered with a clutch 3-pointer and added two more buckets before the end of the quarter.
“They counterpunched,” Hixson head coach Alex Disdrow said. “They’ve got a good point guard in Sadik Spence, and every time we seemed to make a run, he said ‘no uh, not on my watch.’ “
The Wildcats didn’t help themselves, either, shooting just 11 of 25 from the free-throw line.
“Tyner executed well at the end, and we didn’t do a good job shooting free throws,” Disdrow said. “We settled a little bit in the first half – we went away from the shot blockers – but some nights you can’t do that. We told them at halftime to attack the rim. We got them in foul trouble – we didn’t convert – but we got them on their heals.”
Hixson (0-3, 0-1 District 6-AA), which dropped its third straight on Tuesday, have already suffered single-digit setbacks to Rhea County and Grace Baptist. The ‘Cats have come close this season but haven’t been able to break through.
“Tyner played hard, we played hard and I’m proud of the kids,” Disdrow said. “But this is the third time I’ve gone in (the locker room) talking about how hard we played and didn’t get a victory. We didn’t get the reward for how hard we worked.”
Senior guard Jemicah Bowman scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Rams (1-2, 0-1), 6-3 senior Bristen Bridgeman chipped in 20 and Spence finished with 15.
Bridgeman, who scored just six points in the first half, came alive offensively in the final two quarters as Tyner committed to getting the ball in paint against its undersized opponents. He scored 10 points in the fourth.
“That’s our bread and butter,” Harris said. “Our problem is trying to shoot 3s and all that, but that’s why we coach. … As ugly as it is, our problem isn’t on offense. It’s on defense. We’re trying to find ourselves and figure out who we are. It’s going to take a while, but it is what it is.”
Tyner never found an answer for Hixson’s Allan Diaz, who scored 19 points and brought down a game-high 16 rebounds to lead the Wildcats. D’Mondte Smith added 15 points, while Shadon Haves finished with 13.
Hixson will be back in action Friday when it hosts East Ridge, while the Rams return to the court Saturday at Tullahoma.