Blackman pushed its win streak to five Thursday after increasing its scoring bursts in each quarter.
The Blaze downed Independence 49-27 at the Father Ryan Invitational thanks to a 5-0 run to end the first quarter, a 9-0 run late in the second, and a 15-0 run that spanned the late part of the third and early part of the fourth quarters.
“We were pretty consistent in our defensive effort,” Blackman coach Barry Wortman said. “As long as you’re consistent defensively, we feel like we’re going to play well.”
The win moved the Blaze (9-3) into tonight’s 6:15 semifinal against Mt. Juliet, a 68-63 winner against Memphis University School. La Vergne, a 49-46 winner over Hillsboro, and the Father Ryan/Clarksville winner will meet in tonight’s 7:45 semifinal. The championship is Saturday at 7:45.
Isaiah Hart and Reid Pierce scored on back-to-back possessions to close out the first quarter, turning a 6-6 game into an 11-6 lead.
The 9-0 run was bookended by free throws from Christian DeWitt and Andrew Rogan with a Jauan Jennings 3 and back-to-back scores from Lukas Hart in between. Altogether, Blackman closed the second quarter with scores on six of its last seven possessions for a 23-13 halftime lead.
“I think we found our second gear and the defense took over,” said Lukas Hart, who led the Blaze with 13 points. “We started playing better defensively and then the offense came to us through the point guard (Isaiah Hart).”
Independence (3-8) got it as close as seven points (27-20) with 3:25 remaining in the third before the Blaze reeled off their biggest run. The 15 unanswered points over seven minutes were led by eight of Pierce’s 12 — two on dunks. Lukas Hart scored four points — both thanks to offensive boards. DeWitt added a bucket and Isaiah Hart added a free throw.
“We decided to turn it up defensively,” Lukas Hart said of the last run.
The 27 points Independence scored were both a defensive best for Blackman this season and an offensive worst for the District 11-AAA Eagles. They never scored more than seven in a quarter. Deion Simms led Independence with a game-high 15 points thanks to three 3s.
“We played very unselfish against the zone, were really making the extra pass, were plus-28 on the glass, which was really good, and the defensive intensity was good,” Wortman said. “I thought it was a good effort.”
Blackman 49, Independence 27
I 6 7 7 7 — 27
B 11 12 10 14 — 49
I-Stribling 6, Murphy 4, Thompson 2, Deion Simms 15.
B-Jennings 7, I. Hart 6, Lukas Hart 13, Sims 2, Rogan 2, DeWitt 3, Reid Pierce 12, Kalu 2.