Jackets get wins over two rivals
The Hayesville Yellow Jackets continued the tradition of competing in the annual Battle of the States basketball tournament in Hiawassee last week. The tournament format guaranteed teams three games over a three-day period. Hayesville’s first opponent was Lumpkin County, Ga. on Thursday, Dec. 27th. A strong second quarter laid the foundation for Lumpkin to win 65-57. Now in the consolation bracket, the Jackets faced off with the tournament host Towns County on day two. Consistent scoring earned Hayesville a 61-47 victory. On the final day of the tournament, the Jackets battled familiar foe Murphy. After the Bulldogs took an early lead, Hayesville rallied to end the tournament on a high note, winning 60-38.
Competition was fierce in the first quarter of Hayesville’s game with Lumpkin. Scoring was steady with neither team finding a way to pull away. The quarter ended with the Indians holding a slim 14-13 lead. In the second quarter, Hayesville looked totally out matched. Lumpkin was able to capitalize on rebounds and turnovers to add 26 points to the board. Hayesville hit double digits with 12 points in the quarter, but found themselves down 40-25 at the half. Coming out of the break the Jackets made adjustments which would prove to be effective. Hayesville won the third quarter 14-10 to chisel into Lumpkin’s lead and trailed 50-37. In the fourth, the Jackets again out scored their opponent, 18-15, but the hole dug in the second quarter was too much to climb out of. Lumpkin held on to get the 65-57 win and send Hayesville to the consolation bracket.
Day two saw the Jackets take on tournament host and long time rival Towns County. The Indians had their fans on their feet early as they defended their home court successfully in the first quarter, building a 17-12 lead. In the second quarter, the teams remained close, taking turns adding to their totals. Hayesville was able to pull closer to the lead by out scoring the Indians 15-12, but Towns County was still out front 29-27 at halftime. Scoring totals in the third quarter were a carbon copy of the second which put the Jackets ahead 42-41 going into the fourth quarter. Hayesville had their best quarter of the game with 19 points and the Towns County offense that had been able to stay with the Jackets suddenly went cold, managing just 6 points. The point difference gave Hayesville the 61-47 victory over their Lake Chatuge rival.
As if one rivalry game in a tournament wasn’t enough, the Jackets’ win over Towns County set them up in a showdown with their chief rival Murphy. As always in rivalry games, emotions were high in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs used that adrenaline to net 15 points in the first quarter while holding Hayesville to 13. Murphy’s joy was short lived as their offensive performance turned out to be a sprint instead of a marathon. The Jackets took over the lead in the second quarter and entered the locker room up 23-20. Hayesville used the third quarter to extend their lead by scoring 15 points while the defense held Murphy to 9 to make the score 38-29 with one quarter to go. The Jackets’ scoring trend continued in the fourth quarter with Hayesville putting up their biggest number of the tournament — 22. Murphy’s 9 points in the quarter never gave the Bulldogs a hope of a rally and the Jackets finished the tournament with a 60-38 win.
Jake McTaggart’s 41 points in the tournament earned the freshman a spot on the All-Tournament team.
The Lake Chatuge Rivalry will get another chapter quickly as Hayesville will host Towns County Saturday, Jan.5. On Tuesday, Jan. 8 the Jackets return to Smoky Mountain Conference play as they travel to Swain County to face the Maroon Devils. Start time for both games is set for 7:30 p.m.