On a night where head coach Mike Cottrell was honored, the varsity Yellow Jacket basketball team flexed their muscles. Hayesville played host to Murphy Tuesday, Jan. 21 and thrilled Jacket Nation with a dominating performance. The Jackets cruised to a 69-39 win over their rivals.
Coming off wins over Cherokee and Nantahala, which put their winning streak at seven games, Hayesville was set to try to extend their winning ways in front of their home crowd.
Prior to the game, Cottrell was honored for picking up his 400th win as the head coach for the Jackets. The win came on Jan. 10 when Hayesville took down the Andrews Wildcats. In his 21 seasons at the helm, Cottrell has amassed more than 400 wins, 11 Smoky Mountain Conference championships and a state title in 2004.
“There are so many people who have helped make this possible,” Cottrell said. “In my time here at Hayesville I have had the privilege of working with great assistant coaches and talented players.” The head coach went on to say with a smile, “My dad told me one time, ‘If you can do something you love, are passionate about it and get paid for it, you’ve hit a home run’ and that’s the way I feel about being here at Hayesville.”
After the recognition of Cottrell’s milestone, it was game time. The Yellow Jackets seemed to be on a mission to make sure their coach would add another win to his total. Hayesville came out strong, led by junior Blake McClure who torched the net for 14 points in the first quarter. The Jackets ended the period up 22-14 and had a stranglehold on momentum.
Quarter two saw Hayesville big man Jake McTaggart dominate under the basket. McTaggart put up 6 points and had multiple rebounds on both ends of the floor to keep the Jackets in control. Point guard Kolbe Ashe got his first 5 points of the game and senior Mark Cothren came in from the bench with 5 points to put Hayesville up 37-19 at the break.
McTaggart again led the Yellow Jackets in the third quarter with another 6 points while Brady Shook made his presence felt with his sixth point on the night. Hayesville’s defense seemed to confuse the Bulldogs and Murphy was able to add just 9 points to their total, giving the Jackets a 56-28 lead with one quarter to go.
In the fourth, Paul White used his 3-point shooting accuracy and a quick jumper to lead Hayesville with 5 points while Tyler Jones and Rudy Seaker entered the game and made an immediate impact with 2 points each as the Jackets wrapped up the 69-39 win, Cottrell's 403rd.
Hayesville now prepares for a road game in Robbinsville Friday, Jan. 24 followed by a home game against Franklin Monday, Jan. 27 and the longest road trip of the season Tuesday, Jan. 28 as the Jackets head to Rosman. All games are set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Leaders vs Murphy
Blake McClure: 16 points
Jake McTaggart: 16 points
Mark Cothren: 9 points
Brady Shook: 8 points