Ryan Jones was a rookie in the TSSAA BlueCross Boys Basketball State Championships on Wednesday afternoon.
He didn’t play like it.
The Siegel junior point guard, who was a freshman the last time the Stars reached the state tournament in 2011, scored a game-high 20 points to help lead the sixth-ranked Stars to a 53-47 win over unranked Maryville to advance to the state semifinals.
The Rebels struggled to find an answer for Jones’ speed, allowing him to get to the basket.
“I did use my speed,” Jones said. “Then I had my brother (Siegel senior Robert Brandon) and (coach Ben) Dotson building me up with confidence, telling me to take it to the rim.
“They told me they can’t guard me, so take it to the rim.”
Siegel (29-5) plays seventh-ranked Dyer County (30-3) at 11:45 a.m. Friday at MTSU’s Murphy Center in the Class AAA semifinals. Siegel, which advanced to the program’s sixth state tournament in the school’s 10-year history, has never advanced to a state championship.
Siegel’s aggressive play at the rim put the Stars at the free thow line 36 times against the Rebels. However, Siegel converted on just half of those attempts.
“Everybody is going to have to step up (on Friday) and hit them,” Siegel junior Charles Clark said. “I guess we were a little nervous. It was our first time in the state tournament.”
Teammate Damien Clark added 14, and his brother Charles Clark added 13. Damien Clark also grabbed 12 rebounds.
Maryville hit just 1-of-13 from the field in the third quarter, allowing the Stars to extend a 2-point halftime lead to 39-28 through three quarters. Combine that with foul trouble, and the Rebels didn’t have an answer.
“For us to be really good, we have to shoot it well,” Maryville coach Mark Eldridge said. “We were 5-of-23 from 3. We went on a really ice cold, lack there of spurt in the second quarter and into the third.
“I thought we had some pretty good looks. We just made nothing.”
Clark McCall led Maryville with 18 points. Maryville shot 16-of-54 from the field in the loss.
Siegel coach Ben Dotson said his team weathered any first-game state tournament jitters.
“It was all knew to these guys,” Dotson said. “I call them the young bucks. After we settled down and did well after we got to the energy level Murphy Center.”
Dotson twice subbed out his starting lineup with a fresh five — once in the first half and another in the second. He said that was for depth, but also to make sure his starters were on the same page.
“We just talked about the sense of urgency in taking care of the ball,” Dotson said. “I think there may have been about six minutes (left in the third quarter). I just told them we had 14 minutes to write history.
“I just wanted to calm them down.”
Siegel 53, Maryville 47
Siegel 9 16 14 14 — 53
Maryville 13 10 5 19 — 47
Siegel: C. Clark 13, Gooch 2, Jones 20, D. Clark 14, Martin 3, McGee 1.
Maryville: McCall 18, Edmiston 7, Garrett 5, Kimble 6, Landers 8, Vaught 3.