Two storied high schools will battle for the right to host a sub-state game. Before the season started, not too many people would have predicted this match-up. The East Nashville Eagles were coming off an undefeated regular season in 2018 but fell short by one game of reaching the regional finals. That team graduated six of their top eight players. The Pearl-Cohn Firebirds ended the 2018 season in last place in District 10AA. New coach Terry Cole had a couple of nice pieces coming back but the resurgence was thought to be in the future. Both teams lost to Martin Luther King Academy I the district tournament but now they have clinched a berth to play at least two more games.
“All I have to say is that we made it to Friday,” said Eagles head coach Jim Fey. Last year we had a good team. We didn’t make it this far. I knew this team had a chance because they play hard. I like our chances.”
Eagles Hold Off MLK
The Eagles and the Martin Luther King Academy Royals gave everyone in attendance at Pearl-Cohn their money’s worth in the first game with East holding on in a 54-51 thriller. East led by senior guard Taras Carter (22 points) were playing without center Michael Dowlen. East got a huge game from back-ups Corey Stewart and Trey Shaw. The juniors combined for 12 points and 17 rebounds. After a close first quarter, the Eagles ran out to a 27-19 first half lead. East stretched the lead to 20 points late in the third quarter on a basket by senior Caleb Grimes. MLK had the final shot of the quarter and sharpshooter Michael McClarty (20 points) buried a three-point shot to cut the deficit to 45-28.
The fourth quarter was all MLK as Marlow Blackmon and McClarty both hit three-point baskets. Grimes scored to stop the 9-0 run. MLK then went on a 14-2 run to cut the lead to 49-48 on another three by McClarty. After two Shaw free throws, Royal forward Derrick Thompson (10 points) hit a second chance basket to cut it one again with 1:06 left. After Carter split two free throws, MLK’s Tre Vaughn (12 points) split two free throws after another second chance. Grimes grabbed the rebound and got it back to Carter who was fouled with 14 seconds left. This time he hit both free throws to set up a dramatic finish.
MLK advanced the ball to half court and called a timeout. Everyone in gym expected the play to be called for McClarty but he was asked to be the screener for Mason Wilson who had a good look, but Shaw came up with a huge block as time expired.
East Nashville (54)
Taras Carter 8-14 3-4 22, Caleb Grimes 3-7 1-2 7, Tre Shaw 0-0 4-6 4, Isaiah Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Josh Cole 0-0 0-0 0, Corey Stewart 4-6 0-0 8, Willie Wilson 4-11 0-0 11. Totals 20-41 8-12 54
Martin Luther King (51)
Bradley Watts 0-1 0-0 0, Michael McClary 7-11 0-0 20, Marlow Blackman 2-5 0-0 5, Myles Pratt 1-3 0-0 2, Jay Verge 0-0 0-0 0, Tre Vaughn 4-14 3-6 12, Masen Wilson 0-8 0-0 0, Derrick Thompson 3-7 2-2 10, Matt Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Sam Ejiofor 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-52 5-8 51
SCORE BY PERIODS 1st 2nd 3rd 4th TOTAL
East Nashville 11 16 18 9 54
Martin Luther King 11 8 9 23 51
FG%: East Nashville .488, Martin Luther King .346. 3-pt FG:East Nashville 6-17 (Carter 3-7, Grimes 0-1, Jones 0-1, Wilson 3-8), Martin Luther King 10-31 (Watts 0-1, McClary 6-10, Blackman 1-2, Vaughn 1-9, Wilson 0-3, Thompson 2-5, Ejiofor 0-1). Rebounds: East Nashville 35 (Shaw 10), Martin Luther King 28 (Ejiofor 7). Fouls East Nashville 9, Martin Luther King 18. Fouled out: Ejiofor . Technical: none. Assists: East Nashville 11 (Carter 4), Martin Luther King 10 (Blackman 3). Steals: East Nashville 6 (Carter 2), Martin Luther King 4 (McClary 1, Vaughn 1, Wilson 1, Ejiofor 1). Blocked shots: East Nashville 5 (Shaw 4), Martin Luther King 1 (Ejiofor 1). Turnovers: East Nashville 9, Martin Luther King 9. Attendance: 0.
Firebirds Roll Over Maplewood
The host Firebirds ran out to an 18-2 first quarter lead and held on to defeat the Maplewood Panthers 67-54 in the Region 5AA nightcap. Pearl-Cohn went up by as much as 28 points but had to fight off a valiant second half effort from the Panthers to get the victory.
“We started to turn the ball over and our intensity level just came down,” said Cole. “Like I tell everybody, defense is our offense and we stopped playing defense. It takes all five men on the court and the entire bench. It’s a team effort.”
Lightening quick point guard Adien Dhies led the Firebirds with 18 points. District 10AA Tyrone Marshall had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Dhies and Marshall have carried Pearl-Cohn during this post season run while Will Shaw has been out with an illness. Maplewood senior BoBo Hodges led all scorers with 27 points and he had 13 rebounds. Makell Smith added 14 points and center Jermaine Donnell has 11 rebounds for the Panthers.
“You never want to be on this side of it (season ending loss) but it happens,” said Maplewood coach Ty Wilson. “We got ourselves in too big of a hole to come back on a good team like that. It seems like they had our number all year. Coach Cole did a great job all year. I wish both teams the best. I hope they both make it to Murfreesboro.”
Anthony Garrett 1-4 0-0 2, Cornell Pinkston 1-2 0-0 2, Bobo Hodges 10-28 4-8 27, Antonio Cockrill 1-4 0-0 3, Will Van Buren 1-3 0-0 2, Ty Rhea 1-1 0-0 3, Makell Smith 6-13 0-0 14, Jermaine Donnell 0-4 1-2 1. Totals 21-59 5-10 54
Aden Dhies 6-10 4-4 18, J. Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Byrd 0-0 0-0 0, Anthony 4-6 4-7 12, D. Allen 2-6 3-4 7, Tyrone Marshall 4-10 6-6 15, Tucker 3-10 0-0 6, Griffen 4-7 1-4 9. Totals 23-49 18-25 67
SCORE BY PERIODS 1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT1 TOTAL
Maplewood 2 6 19 27 0 54
Pearl-Cohn 18 18 12 19 0 67
FG%: Maplewood .356, Pearl-Cohn .469. 3-pt FG:Maplewood 7-23 (Garrett 0-1, Hodges 3-10, Cockrill 1-3, Rhea 1-1, Smith 2-8), Pearl-Cohn 3-12 (Dhies 2-4, Marshall 1-3, Tucker 0-5). Rebounds: Maplewood 46 (Hodges 13), Pearl-Cohn 30 (Marshall 14). Fouls Maplewood 22, Pearl-Cohn 17. Fouled out: Anthony . Technical: Donnell. Assists: Maplewood 7 (Hodges 3), Pearl-Cohn 9 (Anthony 4). Steals: Maplewood 7 (Cockrill 3), Pearl-Cohn 3 (Anthony 2). Blocked shots: Maplewood 2 (Donnell 2), Pearl-Cohn 4 (Marshall 2). Turnovers: Maplewood 13, Pearl-Cohn 13. Attendance: 0.
Region 5AA Tidbits:
Family Feud in Championship Game
The championship game will be a family affair. Pearl Cohn head coach Terry Cole will go up against his little brother Josh Cole who is a sophomore shooting guard foe East. Josh’s team is 2-0 against his big brother. The Coles’ parents were in attendance for the semi-finals. Terry has a clue where their loyalty lies.
“I will be honest with you, we are used to the family affair. My little cousin plays for MLK and my nephew plays at Tyner. It will be interesting conversation for the next couple of days. This will be the one time that my parents root against me,” said a laughing Terry Cole.
Hodges Era Over at Maplewood
On of the most successful eras came to the end with the Maplewood loss. Maplewood has made it to the regionals four of the past five years and it is no coincidence that at least one player named Hodges has been an important factor during the run.
Bo Hodges started the run when he helped lead the Panthers to a sub state loss to Christ Presbyterian his sophomore year. He then won back-to-back Class AA Mr. Basketballs but lost in the sub-state as a junior to Marshall County and then his senior year Maplewood won the state championship. After failing in the district last year, little brother BoBo Hodges led this year’s team to the region semi-finals. The younger Hodges is a four-year starter in basketball and was a Mr. Football finalist this year.
“Both of them had outstanding careers here at Maplewood,” said head coach Ty Wilson. “I enjoyed coaching them. Somebody else is going to have to make a name for themselves.”
– – –
Photos Adien Dhies, BoBo Hodges, and Taras Carter by Dwayne Ewers of Main Street Preps.