The champs are here

  • (Kelli Graves • Clay County Progress) Senior Blake McClure celebrates his teams success from the bench.
    (Kelli Graves • Clay County Progress) Senior Blake McClure celebrates his teams success from the bench.

The Hayesville Yellow Jackets have clinched their third straight Smoky Mountain Conference championship and have taken their undefeated record all the way to the No.1 ranking for 1A. The road to perfection continues for the varsity Yellow Jacket basketball team thanks to their most recent wins. On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Hayesville traveled to Andrews where the team got a 78-39 win. Hayesville followed that up with a 64-48 victory in Cherokee Friday, Feb. 12.

Last season, the Andrews Wildcats were Hayesville's chief rival for the SMC championship. A late-season showdown in Andrews was a standing room only event in which a gym full of fans saw the Jackets defeat the Wildcats and clinch the solo conference championship. 

What a difference a year makes. This year, Andrews was out of the running and the Jackets were able to dominate. The Cats stayed close in the first half, but Hayesville hit the locker room at halftime up 33-22. In the second half, the Jackets showed why they are considered one of the best teams in the state. Hayesville out scored Andrews 19-5 in the third quarter and 26-12 in the fourth to finish off the 78-39 win.

Junior, Kolbe Ashe, led the team with 31 points followed by Brady Shook with 11, Asher Brown with 9 and Jose Espinal with 8.

Against the Braves, Hayesville got off to a strong stat with 20 first-quarter points while limiting Cherokee to 12. The second quarter was the best of the game for the Jackets thanks to 24 points. Cherokee netted 14 which gave Hayesville a 44-26 halftime lead. 

The home team was able to cut into the lead slightly in the third, but not enough to steal the momentum away from the Jackets. In the fourth, Hayesville put the game on ice with 14 points and headed home the owners of a 64-48 victory and a 12-0 record.

Ashe again led the squad with 29 points with senior Blake McClure with 10, Logan Caldwell with 6 and Kyle Lunsford with 5. 

Hayesville's final regular season game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 in Swain County. Fans can see the team's finale on the "Clay County Schools" YouTube channel.


Kelli Graves • Clay County Progress
The 2020-21 Smoky Mountain Conference championship team is made up of, front, from left, Brady Shook, Logan Caldwell, Eli Roberts, Kolbe Ashe, Blake McClure, Jose Espinal and Asher Brown. Back, assistant coach Will Penland, Tyler Jones, Rudy Seeker, Paul White, Kyle Lunsford, assistant coach Justin Ashe and head coach Michael Cottrell.