EAST RIDGE, Tenn. – Tyner picked the perfect night for a bad free-throw shooting performance.
The visiting Rams were ice cold from the line throughout Thursday’s game at East Ridge. Fortunately for them, their suffocating defensive showing overshadowed a 10-for-25 effort.
“It was one of those ugly games,” Tyner head coach Gerald Harris said. “We want to stress defense, and I thought my guys did a good job defensively. We didn’t do a good job shooting free throws. In those tight games, you’ve got to make those.”
The Rams (3-2, 2-0 District 6-AA), who limited East Ridge to just 13 first-half points, built a 26-point halftime advantage and eventually cruised to a 71-36 win.
The shorthanded Pioneers (1-4, 0-1) didn’t have an answer for Tyner’s unshakable pressure.
“We just have a real young, inexperienced team,” East Ridge head coach John Goddard said. “We’ve got six people out – five of whom will contribute. That’s pretty tough.”
As the second-quarter turnovers piled up for the Pioneers, their deficit grew. A pair of Kolbe King free throws with 1:03 remaining finally ended the Rams’ string of 26 unanswered points, almost all of which came on on easy transition layups.
“There were way too many turnovers, and we let them play at the tempo they wanted to play at,” Goddard said. “Notre Dame did it to us. Maplewood did it to us. The two teams we’ve had success against were zone teams. Ooltewah played zone and Wilson Central played zone.”
The difference grew to as much as 30 in the second quarter and could have been much bigger if not for 12 Tyner misses from the free-throw line.
Tyner’s Alex Watson scored eight of his game-high 12 points in the lopsided second period, and the junior forward cleaned up on the offensive glass.
“This was probably the most aggressive he’s been all year,” Harris said. “One thing he does well is when he rebounds the ball, he keeps it up. You don’t find too many kids like that.”
The 6-5 Watson was fouled on three second-quarter putbacks but was able to complete only one of his three-point play opportunities.
The Pioneers trailed 39-13 at the break but played a much closer second half. They matched their first-half scoring total in the third quarter, but weren’t able to get the deficit under 20.
Junior guard Sadik Spence and senior forward Chris Waller also scored 12 points for Tyner, junior DeQwan Hardwick chipped in nine, and senior center Bristen Bridgeman finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
King led East Ridge with 11.
Both teams return to action Tuesday evening as the Pioneers play host to Central and Tyner takes on McCallie at home.