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Coalfield defeats Tellico Plains, advances to Region Semifinals

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By Taylor Crombie

After a lackluster performance in the District 3-A consolation game, the Coalfield Yellow Jackets had to face the District 4-A Champion Tellico Plains Bears in the Region 2-A Quarterfinal. It was a struggle down until the end, but the Jackets fought hard and came from behind to defeat Tellico Plains 66-63, courtesy of a 3-pointer from Tyler Keathley with four seconds left in the game.

“They were very resilient tonight,” Coalfield head coach Daniel Byrd said. “That’s the most resilient they’ve been all year, they hung in there right until the final buzzer. It was a really good team win.”

It was clear from the beginning that it was going to be a battle to move on to the next round as Coalfield trailed for most of the first half. Parker McKinney had a tough time against the Bears’ defense and only scored two points in the first quarter, but a strong team effort kept Coalfield within five points of Tellico Plains with two threes from Keathley, four points from Johnny Carroll, three from Peyton McKinney and two each from Jake Kilby and Daniel Johnson.

“The rest of the team picked him up tonight for the better part of the first half,” Byrd said.

Parker McKinney played much better offensively in the second quarter, and led the Jackets with 12 points in the period to help them take a 40-37 lead at the end of the half.

Kilby put up 10 points and Keathley made another 3-pointer in the third quarter to extend Coalfield’s lead to 10, but the Bears made four free throws within the last minute of the period to cut it down to six at 53-47 headed into the final frame.

The Jackets got ahead by 10 again at the beginning of the fourth quarter when momentum started to shift to Tellico Plains. Coalfield gave up a couple of turnovers that allowed the Bears to go on a 10-point run and tie the game at 59-59.

Neither team was able to break the stalemate for the next two minutes, until Carter Pipen tipped in a missed layup from Jesse Lambert to put the Bears ahead 61-59. Keathley answered with a bucket on Coalfield’s next possession to tie the game up again with just a minute left in regulation. Kilby made a shot to give Coalfield a 63-61 lead with under 30 seconds left, but it wouldn’t last for long.

David Crace drew a foul and made both free throws, tying the game once again with only 15 seconds remaining, meaning the Jackets needed to execute on their next possession to avoid overtime.

Keathley answered the call and made the game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock, bringing the final score to 66-63 Coalfield.

Keathley finished the game with 17 points, while McKinney and Kilby led the team with 18 each.

“He was confident tonight, that’s the biggest thing with TK,” Byrd said. “He came out and played well tonight.”

With Coalfield’s win, District 3-A swept the region quarterfinals, moving the remainder of the boys’ tournament back to Roane State.

Coalfield (66) Keathley 17, Peyton McKinney 3, Jones 3, Parker McKinney 18, Lowe 1, Johnson 2, Kilby 18, Carroll 4.

Tellico Plains (63) Rinehardt 8, Lambert 11, Harris 2, Crace 21, Carter 8, Shaw 10, Tallent 3.