One of North Murray boys basketball team’s goals this season is to win every home game.
That means the Mountaineers also had the goal of winning their own tournament.
One goal fulfilled.
The Mountaineers won the Mistletoe Madness tournament, beating Gilmer 54-40 in Saturday’s championship.
In the girls championship, the Lady Mountaineers lost 45-38 to Calhoun. In the tournament’s third-place games, Calhoun’s boys beat Polk County (Tenn.) 57-44 for third place while Sonoraville’s girls beat Polk County 59-30. In the fifth-place games, Christian Heritage’s boys beat Sonoraville 65-64 while Gilmer’s girls beat Christian Heritage 73-44. In the girls seventh-place game, Dalton beat Coahulla Creek 78-46.
In the boys title matchup, after North Murray (9-1) squandered a 15-point lead thanks to a 15-7 run by Gilmer (11-2), the Mountaineers led 46-40 with just less than three minutes to play in the game. Following a timeout, Brady Swilling scored his first two points of the game off an alley-oop layup from the inbounds pass.
Swilling, who missed the first half due to playing in the D.L Scott Coalition Bowl all-star football game in Atlanta, scored the next four points. North Murray never allowed another basket the rest of the game, giving reason to mark off one of the team goals for this season.
“Our goals are on the board in there,” Mountaineers coach Tim Ellis said. “They’re all team goals. We’re going to check them off as we go, or we’re going to put an X by them.”
Not winning Southeast Whitfield’s Hoopfest tournament got an “X,” while winning their own gets a check. And another is still pending — North Murray hasn’t lost at Mountaineer Gymnasium yet.
“The way coach Ellis says it, ‘We bleed on this floor, we sweat on this floor, we get griped at on this floor every day and no one is going to come in here and ain’t nobody going to come in here and take that from us,’” senior Austen Horn said.
Trailing 13-12 after one quarter, Horn hit a 3-pointer to start the second followed by a Drew Mosteller layup. Horn got a steal and passed to Mosteller for another layup, forcing a Bobcats timeout with the Mountaineers ahead 19-13.
North Murray’s defense held the Bobcats to just six second-quarter points and carried a 30-19 lead into halftime.
“I think the biggest thing is getting the best opportunities on offense,” Gilmer coach Jordan Hice said. “I think that was our biggest struggle. We either got them and didn’t make them or we took bad shots.”
Zach Vess had a game-high 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead North Murray, while Mosteller added 11 points and five assists and Omar Romero chipped in six points and seven rebounds filling in for Swilling at forward.
For Gilmer, Joe Bob Charles tallied a team-high 16 points and no other Bobcat reached double figures.
The girls championship was closer throughout, with neither team leading by double digits, but the Lady Mountaineers’ offense stalled when it mattered most.
After Kara Deal’s two free throws with 2:45 to play tied it at 38, the Lady Mountaineers did not score again. Taylor Palmer’s 3-point play sparked a 7-0 game-closing run for Calhoun.
“We just didn’t make shots when we needed to,” North Murray coach Keith Robinette said. “I’m proud of our kids. They played hard.”
The Lady Mountaineers (7-3) led 14-11 after one quarter and 22-20 after two. After trailing the entire second quarter, Calhoun (6-1) took a 32-30 lead with a Bree Wolraven 3-pointer, which was the score heading into the fourth.
“They made a good adjustment and tried to get it to their shooter,” Robinette said of Wolraven, who scored 10 in the second half after going scoreless in the first. “We didn’t defend her like we were supposed to.”
North Murray’s Megan Spivey grabbed an offensive rebound and got the putback, tying the game at 36 with 4:21 to play. It was the final field goal for the Lady Mountaineers.
“We didn’t shoot it well,” Lady Yellow Jackets coach Jerry Pruett said. “They didn’t shoot it well. This one came down to who could make the big shot and who could make the defensive stops.”
Palmer had a game-high 19 points for Calhoun. Pittman and Hensley each scored eight for North Murray, who didn’t have a player reach double figures.
• Christian Heritage boys 65, Sonoraville 64: Will Patterson scored 26 points, Michael McKinney added 23 and Cole Maffetone had 10 in a comeback win for the Lions (4-3).
“I believe the beast was let loose because (McKinney) played like a monster today,” Christian Heritage coach Anthony Moseley said. “He’s so big and athletic and played like a big man.
“We were behind the whole game until the fourth quarter and they fought all the way until the end.”
The teams stayed within single digits of one another throughout, with the Lions trailing until the fourth quarter. They took a three-point lead and on Sonoraville’s last possession the Christian Heritage defense caused a Sonoraville player to lose control of the ball and throw up a frantic shot at the buzzer.
“I think this tournament was good for us because we learned a lot,” Moseley said.
• Dalton girls 78, Coahulla Creek 46: The Lady Cats were led by Maddie Howell’s 29 points in running past the Lady Colts in the seventh-place game.
Taylor Behr added 12 for Dalton (10-4). Macey Fossett scored 16 points to lead Coahulla Creek (0-10), and Haley Reece added nine points.
• Gilmer girls 73, Christian Heritage 44: The Lady Bobcats led by eight at the end of the first quarter and slowly built their lead the rest of the way.
Christian Heritage’s Sarah Massengale finished with an impressive 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, but it wasn’t enough for the Lady Lions (3-9). Rebecca Leonard added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Jordan Suddath scored 10 points and had nine rebounds.