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Coach John Sanders talks about the district tournament

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The DeKalb County Tigers season came to an end this past week in Cookeville as Upperman ushered them from the district tournament but not before the boys from Smithville got a pound of revenge on Cannon County and gave a big scare to the top-seeded Bees.

“We executed the game plan really well and played really hard,” said Head Coach John Sanders of their tournament opening win over Cannon County, 57-40 in a game the Tigers led from the second quarter to the end. They surrendered just 17 first half points against the team that had beaten them three times during the regular season – the Tigers losing all three in fairly close games.

“We pressed them the whole game and, even when we didn’t get turnovers, we forced their shots,” Coach Sanders said of what was different in the playoffs. “We were able to control the tempo. They dictated the pace of play during our first three games with them.”

The Tiger run started in the second quarter as they shrugged off a one point deficit after the first. They went into the locker room at Hooper-Eblen Center on the campus of Tennessee Tech with a 23-17 advantage. Colter Norris led the way with 14 and Dallas Cook with 11.

The Lion run to answer the Tigers never came as DeKalb stretched their lead to 37-28 by the fourth. The Tigers were able to hit their foul shots and play keep away for much of the fourth, expanding their lead to 17 by the end.

As for their swansong, the Tigers had lost by 15 and 30, respectively in their regular season games against the Upperman Bees but fell by just four in the quarter-finals of the 8AA tourney, 62-58.

Like in the Cannon game the night before, the Tigers got out and controlled the tempo early, leading by a point, 27-26 at the half thanks to 19 on the night for Tanner Poss and 15 by Hayden Thomas. They trailed 41-40 going into the final quarter but were unable to control the boards as the stars for the Bees stepped up at crunch time.

The season ends with the Tigers at 6-23. While admitting he would have liked to see more wins, the coach, in his freshman year at the helm of DeKalb, believes the Cannon victory and close call against Upperman will serve as building blocks going into next season.