Trojans' season ends with loss in Region 7AA semifinals

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Dyersburg senior Kevin Spencer goes up for a layup against a South Side defender during the Trojans’ season-ending loss to the Hawks on Tuesday night in the Region 7AA Semifinals at McNairy Central High School in Selmer.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse


For the second straight year, the Dyersburg boys were within sight of extending their postseason past the regional tournament, but an early fourth-quarter run by South Side proved to be costly as the Trojans’ season ended with a 49-46 loss to the Hawks in the Region 7AA Semifinal on Tuesday night at McNairy Central High School in Selmer.

“I am proud of the guys and proud of the fight,” Dyersburg head coach Blaine Mahaffey said after the season-ending loss. “We had a couple of good days of preparation for this but you’ve got to give South Side a lot of credit.

“They played really well down the stretch.”

Mahaffey pointed out the Hawks are regulars in the later rounds of the region tournaments, having advanced at least to the semifinals every year since 2011, which he felt played into South Side’s hands against the Trojans (23-5).

Above, Dyersburg’s Niko Mann looks for an open teammate after getting the ball away from a South Side player.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse

“They’re in this game every year,” Mahaffey said. “(Damonn Fuller) does a great job with them.

“They’re a good team with experience and expectations with their program. It’s where a lot of people want to be.”

Dyersburg was able to take the lead midway through the opening quarter with a short putback from Niko Mann, but South Side answered with a strong performance down the stretch in the first frame. Three points from Janias Parram were the foundation of a 6-0 run to end the frame and give the Hawks a 10-6 lead after one.

Trojan junior DaMarr Ward goes up against a Hawk defender and is able to draw a foul on the play.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse

The Trojans got an early Kevin Spencer free throw to cut it to three early in the second stanza, but a three-pointer from Hawk Bryce McBride pushed it to six.

A Williams jumper was countered by a Jytarion Johnson bucket but Dyersburg’s Malik Currie looked to cut it back to four with a driving layup. However, the junior Trojan guard was called for a charge prompting Dyersburg’s head coach to passionately dispute the call, resulting in a technical foul.

McBride hit both free throws then the Hawks added a Johnson bucket to take a 19-9 lead with 5:15 left.

But, in this case, the technical foul seemed to provide a spark for the Trojans as Williams hit back-to-back three-pointers then DaMarr Ward added another one to get the team within one over the next 90 seconds. After Ward sank a free throw to tie the game, Williams added a third three-pointer in the quarter to cap the 13-0 run and give Dyersburg a 22-19 lead with 2:31 left in the half.

Mahaffey downplayed the importance of the technical which was followed by the double-digit run to take the lead.

“Well, I need to do a better job – we preach it – and I need to do a better job of staying under control,” Mahaffey said. “It probably hurt our team a little bit.

“But, our guys have a lot of fight and obviously they did some things to put themselves in position.”

South Side, though, was able to knot the score up at 22-22 at the half with a three-point play from Parram.

The Hawks took the lead early in the third quarter with a three-pointer from McBride, but Dyersburg bounced back with buckets from Currie and Williams to go on top.

A Josh Anderson free throw tied the game briefly before the Trojans got a free throw and a three-pointer from Kevin Spencer to take a 30-26 lead with 5:07 left in the third frame.

South Side answered the Trojan run with a similar one of its own as the Hawks got a three-point play from McBride and a jumper from Isiah Martin to take a one-point lead. Spencer put Dyersburg back on top briefly, but a McBride three-pointer gave the lead back to South Side. The Trojans were able to tie the score twice over the final 2:18 of the quarter, but a late McBride three-pointer sent the game into the fourth quarter with the Hawks on top 39-36.

South Side gained some important momentum to start the fourth quarter, countering a three-pointer from Currie with four points from Parram and an Anderson jumper to take a 45-36 lead with 3:50 left in the game. Still, the Trojans answered the bell, getting a Spivey bucket and a pair of Williams free throws to cut the lead to two. A Martin bucket for the Hawks pushed it back to four with 2:30 left before a Williams layup and a Spencer free throw cut it to one with 1:43 left in the game.

Dyersburg looked poised to take the lead with just under a minute left in the game on a driving layup by Mann. Though his attempt did roll around and fall through the rim, the senior was called for charging – his fifth foul.

With Mann out of the game, a foul on the next Hawk possession sent McBride to the line where he hit both attempts. Still, the Trojans had a shot at the end as three-point attempts by Williams and Spivey were just off the mark and a late putback attempt from Currie also failed to fall through in the final moments. After the misses, the Trojans were able to get a quick foul with 1.4 seconds left and South Side’s Travelle Turner missed both attempts. Dyersburg was unable to get the last-second near-full court shot to fall as South Side took the win and ended the Trojans’ season.

“We would have loved to have all three of our seniors out there, but unfortunately one fouled out,” Mahaffey said. “But, we had a shot at the end to tie it and what more can you ask for?

“These guys have answered the bell all year. Really proud of them.”

Williams led the way for the Trojans with 20 points while Spencer added 10. Mann and Ward each added six in the loss for Dyersburg.

“It’s been a great year,” Mahaffey said after the season-ending loss. “It could have ended two weeks ago and still been a great year.”

The Trojans were 13-of-47 from the field during the loss as well as 6-of-12 from the line with 28 rebounds but 10 turnovers.

In comparison, South Side shot 16-of-38 from the field and 9-of-21 from the line. The Hawks grabbed 20 boards with nine turnovers.

The loss ends the high school careers of Trojan seniors Williams, Mann and Spencer.

“Losing three dandies right there,” Mahaffey said of the trio. “They are irreplaceable.

“They’ve been really good and, obviously, over the last two years. What are they? 49-8. They’ve had a huge impact on our program – both as a group and each one of them individually. They’ve got a huge place in my heart.”

Mahaffey again added Williams, Mann and Spencer are all great students who’ve had a huge impact on the Trojan program during their careers.

“Like I said, they’re irreplaceable and I can’t say enough about them,” the Trojan head coach said. “What they’ve meant for our program and what they’ve meant for me personally, it’s been huge.”

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