WAYNESVILLE – Tuscola’s boys are still shifting things around and trying to find a lineup that works for them.
A freshman having a 21-point game makes the process go a lot more smoothly.
Young center Landon Henley was able to control the paint in Tuesday’s semifinals of the Mountaineer Holiday Classic. The host team got a dozen points from Jordan Valentine and 11 more from Lane Kervin to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 68-55 win.
“We’re messing around with things and looking to find what works for us,” Tuscola coach Nathan Messer said. “(Roberson) is a team known for its athleticism, and they played hard tonight. It was good to see our kids respond.”
The score between the Mountaineers (5-6) and Rams (5-5) was tied at 43 entering the fourth quarter.
Tuscola advances to play Mountain Heritage (a 60-55 winner over Robbinsville) in the championship game at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Alex Wallace (14 points) and Lucas Tate (12) reached double figures for Roberson, which got nine points from Gilbert Whiteside.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Rams coach Adam Ballard said. “Lucas Tate hit some big shots, and Alex Wallace really gave us some good minutes. We’re a young team, and, hopefully, we’ll keep improving.”
Roberson started three juniors, a senior and a sophomore in its first game without former leading scorer Shemarri Allen (13.2 ppg), who has transferred to a Charlotte-area school.
Mountain Heritage (6-3) put three players in double figures – Colton Garland (13 points), Bryson Cooper (12) and Hayden Branton (10) – to get past Robbinsville in Tuesday’s other semifinal game.
Mountain Heritage and Roberson will be matched in Wednesday’s 3 p.m. girls championship game.
Camryn Jansen (23 points) and Kiyarra Collins (12) combined for all but eight of the points scored by the Rams (7-3) in their 43-41 semifinal win over Tuscola. Shelby Grace and Samantha Young netted 11 points apiece for the Mountaineers (4-7).
The Cougars (8-1) broke open their semifinal game by outscoring the Black Knights (4-1) by a 26-3 margin in the third quarter of a 71-48 win. Ciera Chandler (17) and Hali King (13) accounted for 30 points, while Kinsley Orr (21) and Erin Maennle (14) were the top scorers for Robbinsville.
Wednesday’s consolation games in Waynesville begin at noon (girls) and 1:30 p.m. (boys).