Photo: Etowah High’s Tae Wright (4) goes in for a layup as Ashville’s Adrianne Hernandez (12) defends during the Blue Devils’ 70-59 victory in high school basketball last Tuesday (Jan. 12) at AHS. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Etowah is back on the right track in terms of area play.
The Blue Devils held off a pesky Ashville squad last Tuesday (Jan. 12), 70-59, to post their second straight Class 4A, Area 10 win after coming up short to Jacksonville last week.
After building a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs, Etowah took its foot off the gas and almost cost themselves a victory.
After Ethan Foster’s layup made it 52-32, Jacob Wilson scored six straight points in the post to trim the AHS deficit to 14 points. Hayden Phillips’ 3-point basket midway through the period closed the gap to 10. Senior guard Adriane Hernandez then took over, scoring nine of the next 12 Ashville points to pull the Bulldogs within 63-57 with 1:10 on the clock.
Steven Jones’ basket at the three-minute mark was Etowah’s last field goal of the night, but the Blue Devils went 11-for-14 at the free throw line from that point on to keep Ashville at bay.
Jones paced Etowah with 19 points, while Tae Wright finished with 17. Khalil Hughley added 12 points, while Foster chipped in nine.
“Kids sometimes tend to relax when they get a big lead like that, but give credit to Ashville,” said Etowah interim head coach Tommy Davis. “Their kids fought the whole game. They cheered for each other, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Hughley drained a pair of 3-point baskets during the first quarter to help put the visitors ahead 13-11. Tae Wright’s jump shot with a minute to go in the second period gave the Blue Devils their first double-digit lead. Ashton Vann canned a trey in the closing seconds of the first half to pull Ashville within 31-23.
Etowah began pulling away midway through the third quarter. After a basket by Vann cut the Bulldog deficit to three points, the Blue Devils closed out the period on a 14-2 run, with Wright contributing eight points during that stretch.
The visitors entered the fourth quarter up 47-32, and five points from Foster soon made it a 20-point margin. The hosts soon put together a 20-9 run but eventually ran out of firepower.
“We fought hard tonight, and I can’t question our kids’ effort,” said Ashville head coach Caleb Carpenter. “We’ve just got to understand that we have to play the entire 32 minutes like we played the last eight. When we’ve got everyone doing what they can do best individually for the team, it hopefully will create more success.”
Hernandez led Ashville with 15 points, followed by Wilson with 13, Phillips with 11 and Vann with nine. Wilson grabbed 14 rebounds, while Gabe Sawyer pulled down five.
“Any time you win an area game, especially on the road, it’s big,” said Davis. “We want to be playing our best basketball at the end, and we’re starting to turn the corner a little bit.”