Blue Devils seek to repeat, Bears take aim at first district championship

Andy Reed • Feb 17, 2018 at 11:13 PM

HENDERSONVILLE — In a well-played boys’ high-school basketball game, Lebanon emerged with a 44-37 win over Gallatin in the District 9-AAA semifinals Saturday.

The Blue Devils will take aim at their second straight district tournament championship at 8 p.m. Tuesday against top-seed Mt. Juliet, still seeking its first championship. The Golden Bears held serve by holding off rival Wilson Central 48-45 in the finale of four games Saturday.

Lebanon and Gallatin were even 10-10 after eight minutes of play as Ethan Njezic drove the lane for the tie after the Green Wave led most of the period.

Gallatin continued to lead most of the second quarter, though Lebanon forged a pair of ties. The Green Wave went into halftime ahead 20-16.

But Lebanon scored the first seven points of the second half and never trailed again. A fastbreak layup by Jeremiah Hastings put the Blue Devils in front for the first time since 6-4 at 21-20. Noah Mulaski followed with a transition layup of his own for a three-point spread.

A fastbreak layup by Gaven Reasonover opened a 31-26 Lebanon lead late in the third quarter.

With Lebanon up four just past the midway mark of the fourth quarter, coach Jim McDowell ordered the Blue Devils to run time off the clock, and they did so successfully, about a minute and a half before Gallatin got a steal and a drive down the lane by Collin Minor to cut the margin to 37-35.

Gallatin coach Bobby Luna then ordered the Green Wave to foul to get Lebanon into the 1-and-1, as few fouls had been whistled on either team to that point. Once the Blue Devils reached the bonus, they had a series of 1-for-2 trips. But those, coupled with a breakaway layup by Hastings, sent LHS back to the finals with a 22-7 record while the Wave will try to salvage third place against Wilson Central at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday with a 24-6 mark.

Mulaski sank 5 of 6 free throws to lead Lebanon with 14 points while Hastings had all nine of his tallies in the second half. Eddie Jackson added eight points but several blocks and rebounds as he was very active in the post. Reasonover and Zion Logue each added four, Malcolm Logue an early three-pointer (he and Mulaski hit from long range as the Blue Devils built the 6-4 getaway) and Njezic two.

A couple of hours later, Jordan Lockridge and Bryan Aiken scored six first-period points apiece to stake Mt. Juliet to a 17-9 first-quarter lead. The Bears led 26-17 at halftime.

Central whittled the lead to 36-31 as Kito Aruh and Gavin Johnson scored seven points apiece during the third period. Johnson tacked on eight more during the fourth, but a pair of baskets by Isaac Stephens and free throws from Gavin Wilson and Will Pruitt kept the Golden Bears in front.

Lockridge and Aiken each tossed in 10 points for the night while Pruitt put in nine, Wilson and Stephens six apiece, J.C. Crawford five and Bailey Bryant two as Mt. Juliet advanced to the championship with a 23-6 record.

Johnson swished four three-pointers to lead the Wildcats with 19 points while Aruh threw in 13. Caleb Lawrence came off the bench to drain a pair of second-quarter triples for his six while Kyzick Schweppe sank a three in the fourth and Naz Czeskleba and Daniel Jackson two apiece as Central slipped to 13-16.

Regardless of Tuesday’s results, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet will play at home at 7 p.m. Friday against Rossview or Kenwood while Wilson Central and Gallatin will travel to Northeast or West Creek in Region 5-AAA first-round action.

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