The varsity basketball team from Hayesville High school has electrified Jacket Nation with their current winning streak. Against Robbinsville, Friday, Jan. 24, the Yellow Jackets made it eight wins in a row with a 66-22 victory. On Monday, Jan. 27 Hayesville hosted Franklin, one of only two teams to defeat the Jackets this season. In an intense battle, Hayesville avenged that loss with a 47-45 win.
Following their win over Robbinsville, which improved their Smoky Mountain Conference record to 9-0, the Jackets stepped outside conference play to face off with the Franklin Panthers. As has been the story this season, The Hive was full of fans to see the neighboring teams hit the court.
Just like they did in the previous game, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead. At the end of the first, Hayesville trailed their 2A opponent 17-8.
The Jackets flexed their offensive muscles in the second quarter, matching Franklin’s first quarter total of 17. The Panthers pounded their way into the lane for 7 points, giving Hayesville a 25-24 lead as the teams hit the locker rooms at the half.
In the third quarter, the opponents continued their show of “anything you can do I can do better” by matching buckets. The Panthers managed to edge out Hayesville in the quarter 10-9, setting up the fourth with a 34-34 tie.
That quarter saw fans’ blood pressure rise with each score. Like two heavyweights throwing haymakers in the final round, the Jackets and the Panthers exchanged shots and scores. Hayesville was able to grab the momentum in the final minute to manufacture a 2-point lead. With 8.6 seconds on the clock, Franklin had possession and lined up a potential 3-pointer from the top of the key. As the Panther shooter released the ball, the long arm of Jake McTaggart crossed its path, knocking it to the floor when Kolbe Ashe grabbed it as time expired.
An explosion of emotion erupted from the home side of the gym and head coach Mike Cottrell was all smiles as he greeted his team when they returned to the bench to celebrate.
Hayesville’s quest for a SMC championship will continue Friday, Jan. 31 with a road game against Swain County. On Tuesday, Feb.4, the Jackets will be in The Hive hosting Hiwassee Dam. Tip-off for each game is set for 7:30 p.m.
LEADERS AT ROBBINSVILLE
Kolbe Ashe: 15 points
Hayden McClure: 12 points
Jake McTaggart: 12 points
Brady Shook: 9 points
LEADERS VS FRANKLIN
Kolbe Ashe: 16 points
Jake McTaggart: 14 points
Hayden McClure: 9 points
Mark Cothren: 3 points