Shorthanded Tecumseh boys secure first victory

Brian Johnson
Tecumseh's Daveon Mays (right) puts up a shot over the defense of Perkins-Tryon's Gannon McCutchen Thursday in the First United Bank Classic at Bethel High School's B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.

BETHEL ACRES – With only eight players in the lineup, the Tecumseh Savages generated enough grit against the Perkins-Tryon Demons Thursday in holding on for a 55-49 victory in the first round of the First United Bank Classic at Bethel High School's B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.

It was Tecumseh's first victory of the season after an 0-2 start as the Savages were without five varsity players, including one starter and two key bench players, due to COVID-19 related concerns.

“We've been battling COVID and haven't had long gym time,” said Tecumseh head coach Bryant Edwards. “We competed hard and we're trying to get our basketball legs. We haven't had a practice with everyone there this year.”

Despite the struggles, the Savages did manage to shoot 52.8% but committed 18 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Demons hit at just a 42.6% pace and fell victim to 20 miscues.

“We have no continuity yet with our offense,” Edwards said.

Tecumseh did place three in double figures led by 5-foot, 10-inch junior Daveon Mays' 18 points. Senior Payden Clutter and junior Jose Lugo followed with 12 apiece. Jace Trice tacked on nine points for the winners.

Mays had a 6-of-10 shooting performance from the floor, including one 3-point basket, and had a 5-of-6 effort from the foul line to go with three steals and three rebounds. Clutter was 4-of-6 from the field, canned 4-of-7 free throws and had three steals of his own. Lugo hit 4-of-7 attempts from the floor, including two treys, while snatching seven rebounds and getting a pair of steals.

“Daveon is starting to get his basketball legs coming from football. He has only been in the gym since Dec. 1,” said Edwards. “Clutter took a big-time charge and got some big buckets late.”

Junior Gannon McCutchen paced Perkins-Tryon with 17 points, but the scoring for his squad dramatically dropped off after that.

The Savages led 11-9 after one quarter and had a 22-17 halftime advantage. Tecumseh managed to maintain that slim five-point cushion, 34-29, heading into the fourth.

The Demons got as close as 26-24 and 30-27 in the third.

Tecumseh enjoyed a 41-31 lead with 5:36 remaining in the contest, but pesky Perkins-Tryon got as close as three, 43-40, with 3:38 to go. Leading 44-40, the Savages were able to keep the Demons at bay after Lugo, Clutter and Mays combined to push the lead out to 48-40.

Clutter stole a pass and fed Lugo for a layup and Mays stole a pass less than 30 seconds later, dished off to Lugo who passed to Clutter on a break for another layup with 2:08 left.

In the final minute, Tecumseh committed three turnovers against Perkins pressure, but did manage to convert 3-of-4 free shots in the process to help preserve the win.

The Savages are scheduled to play host Bethel in the semifinals Friday night. The Wildcats got a first-round bye after their opponent, the Chandler Lions, were hit with COVID issues.

Tecumseh 46, Prague 31 (Girls' First Round)

Kenzli Warden scored 15 of her-game high 18 points in the second half as the 3-0 Lady Savages rolled past the Lady Red Devils.

Warden was only 1-of-10 from the floor (a 3-pointer) in the first half, but heated up in the second to knock down 6-of-10 tries as she ended up with three treys on the day.

Katelyn LaFrance added 10 points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot for Tecumseh. Tawny Billy followed with nine points, four boards, a pair of steals and a blocked shot.

Tori Lester paced Prague with 16 points. Though she struggled a bit from the field (4-of-15), she got half of her points by nailing 8-of-8 free-throw attempts. She also ended up with a double-double as she pulled down 10 boards. Payton Camren was next on the scoring chart for the Lady Red Devils with seven.

The Lady Savages led from start to finish after connecting on three of their first four shots in taking an 8-0 advantage. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Warden and Billy launched the scoring tear and Taylor Mansell hit a short-range bucket with 5:47 remaining in the first.

Tecumseh was 7-of-12 from the field in the opening quarter as they had a 17-9 cushion heading into the second.

Lester did all of the scoring in the second period off two baskets and a pair of free shots while the Lady Savages cooled off. Tecumseh did maintain the lead of six at the break, 21-15.

It was 23-17 in the third when the Lady Savages went on a 14-0 scoring spree with Warden having half of those 14 while LaFrance contributed five off a bucket and 3-of-4 free-shot conversions. The Tecumseh lead swelled to 37-17 before Camren scored with four seconds to go to cut the deficit to 18 going into the fourth.

Prague was unable to get closer than 16 in the fourth.

The Lady Savages were set to face Perkins-Tryon in the semifinals Friday night. Perkins reached that point without playing Thursday as their opponent - Bethel Lady Wildcats - were unable to play in their own tournament due to COVID-19 issues.

Prague fell to 2-1 with Thursday's loss.

Prague 76, Bridge Creek 69 (Boys' First Round)

Nate Lester fired in 29 points while draining four treys as the Red Devils held off the Bobcats in a first-round encounter.

Trip Davis added 17 points, including three treys, for Prague. Blestin Miller followed with 13 points and Eli Bias tacked on 10 as four players reached double figures for the winners.

Gunner Korstjens poured in a game-leading 31 points, including 22 in the first half, for Bridge Creek. Caden Russell was next on the Bobcat scoring list with 14. Korstjens canned three 3-point baskets in the game.

The Red Devils held a 21-14 lead after one quarter but trailed by one after the half, 34-33, when the Bobcats outscored Prague 20-12 in the second. Prague did manage to regain the advantage and took a 51-49 edge into the fourth.

Bridge Creek was outscored 25-20 in the fourth.

The Red Devils, 2-1 after Thursday's win, are to face Byng in the semifinals Friday night.