Hop Brown Middle School Christmas Classic

The middle school basketball teams from West and East tipped off action in the John ‘Hop’ Brown Christmas Classic last Friday night in the West Carter Middle School gym. And the local seventh and eighth-graders combined for a 2-2 opening-night effort.

The younger team from East Carter and the older bunch from West scored victories over Rowan County and Bath County, respectively while the seventh-grade team from West and the eighth-grade roster from East dropped their openers in the double-elimination tournament.

East Carter’s Donovan Roe connected on a pair of free throws at 2:25 in the first quarter of the seventh-grade game against Rowan County to give the Raiders a 2-0 lead after missing their first seven attempts from the field and four from the charity stripe. The Raiders used a 10-2 in the second to get way in front -- and they stayed in front. Kyle Stewart’s free throw with :06 to go gave the game its 32-17 final.

“We beat ‘em before and we had a lot of confidence in ourselves,” East’s Trenton Welsh told The Journal-Times of a win over the Vikings a week ago. “We like to play our 1-3-1 defense and we had to execute it against ‘em again this time to win.”

Stewart led all scoring with 11 points in the Raider victory. Quinn Huddle had seven points and Welsh hit for a half-dozen. Cade Stidham finished with four points and Donovan Roe chipped in two. Tucker Carper nailed a free throw.

“We just have to make sure we’re ready for each game,” Stewart said as the Raider seventh-graders headed into the next round. “We still need to improve on our rebounding and on our free-throw shooting.”

East made just 10-of-23 from the charity stripe in the first-round win.

Field goals by Brett Carra, Cody Prichard and Alex Johnson took the eighth-grade Raiders to a quick 6-2 lead on their Rowan County counterparts. But following a timeout, the Vikings righted their ship then went on to the 51-32 decision.

“We lost our intensity and control of the ball,” Carra told the local press after the contest. “They shoot the ball well and that’s how they got back into it. We’ve just got to come out and play hard and with intensity in each game.”

In the schools’ matchup earlier this month, the East eighth-graders cut into a 25-point Viking lead before Rowan was able to hold on in that one.

“Our goal was to come out hard against them this time,” Prichard said. “And we got that lead on them early.”

Prichard scored 15 points to pace the Raiders and Carra had 11. Johnson added four points and Nick Stapleteon tossed in a pair of free throws for two points.

The West Carter seventh-graders managed just two field goals and three free throws in the first half, falling behind early in their eventual 39-21 loss.

The Wildcat defense put a box and one around Kyle Brown and that kept the Warrior season-leading scorer away from the iron. Dustin Black had eight points for West and Ryan Stallard put in six. Brown was held to four points and Tanner Tackett had two. Darren Walker hit for one point.

“We wanted to be able to get it inside but we just couldn’t,” Black said. “They shut Kyle down and he’s the big part of our offense -- We rely on him a lot. Coach wanted us to box out and get back on defense and we didn’t do that.”

Stallard already knew what the seventh-grade Warriors needed to work on before the next game. “We’ve got to hustle more on defense and run the offense how we do in practice,” he said.

In West’s eighth-grade win over Bath County, Derrick Lawson scored off the tip then Brown nailed the first of a trio of three-point baskets in the first half for a 5-0 lead. Travis Duvall answered a pair of Wildcats scores then Brown punched in a pair from long-range and the locals led by double digits.

Members of the WCMS seventh-grade team; Kyle Brown, Dustin Black, Ryan Stallard, Tanner Tackett, Matthew Patrick, Darren Walker, Justin Ratliff, Ricky Hamm, Devon Butler, Dylan P’Simer, John Johnson, Tommy McGlone.

Members of the WCMS eighth-grade team; Brett Tackett, Derrick Lawson, Cody Stamper, Travis Duvall, Kyle Brown, B.J. Garvin, Kyle Cundiff, Jeremy Miller, Ryan Stallard, Dustin Black.

Members of the ECMS seventh-grade team; Zack Vincent, Dalton Gifford, Tucker Carper, Quinn Huddle, Kyle Stewart, Chandler Duncan, Cole Boggs, Chase Fleming, Cade Stidham, Jordan Burchett, Trenton Welsh, Conner Staton, Blake Mayo, Nolan Adams, Aaron Davis, Donovan Roe, David Bailey.

Members of the ECMS eighth-grade team; Nick Stapleton, Zach Bailey, Derek Steele, Nick Kratzenberg, Alex Johnson, Brett Carra, Seth Greenhill, Tyler Walker, Levi Kiser, Cody Prichard, A.J. Hicks, Mike Brooks.

Look for complete tournament wrap-up from the John ‘Hop’ Brown Christmas Classic in upcoming sports sections of The Journal-Times.

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