31st District knotted up in 3-way tie

-A A +A
By Tommie Kendall

With Henry County’s 59-44 win over Gallatin County Saturday afternoon, the boys’ 31st District is now in a three-way tie for the top spot in next month’s district tournament.

Henry (11-8 record), Gallatin (14-4) and Owen County (11-5) are each 4-2 in district play, while Carroll County (3-12) is 0-6 to already secure the fourth seed. The three teams will meet to draw for the first three seeds at either the district meeting in February or sooner if the coaches agree on a date. The first seed will play Carroll and seeds two and three will play each other in the single-elimination tournament hosted by Gallatin. The top-two teams advance to the 8th Region tournament at Henry.

“I’ve had discussions with the other coaches and they’re focusing on the All ‘A’ Classic right now but afterwards hopefully we can meet to draw for the seeds,” HCHS coach Derek Springate said. “There’s no sense of not knowing since it’s a done deal.”

Each team was required to play each district opponent twice during the regular season to determine postseason positions. This season, Henry beat Carroll both times and split its game against Gallatin and Owen. Saturday’s win over Gallatin wrapped up district play for all 31st District teams.

Henry was ahead of Gallatin 14-8 after the first quarter and 31-15 at the half before cruising for the 59-44 win. Henry lost to Gallatin, 48-36, on Dec. 11.

This contest had a lot riding on the line: if Gallatin won then Gallatin would be guaranteed the top seed, while if Henry won then it would be a three-way tie. Henry led from the start to never leave it to chance.

“We came out mentally ready to play. We jumped on them from the start, got after it and never allowed Gallatin to recover,” said Springate, whose team has now won three straight and five of its last six. “I knew Gallatin wasn’t going to give up because they wanted that first seed but our kids never did lose focus. We continued to execute.”

Henry was five of six from 3-point land in the first half but did not attempt a single 3-pointer during the final two quarters. Springate attributes that to his players not forcing many shots and running the offense. Most of Henry’s points down the stretch came under the basket.

“This is one of those games where we shared the ball really well with 14 assists,” Springate said. “Basically, it came down to us executing and putting the ball in the hole.”

Henry has averaged just four to five assists per game leading up to the Gallatin showdown. Springate said his team’s low average in assists is due to running a more one-on-one spread offense and his team’s inability to knock down the open shots. But not against Gallatin.

Connor Jeffries scored 15 points, Pete Baldwin scored 11, Tommy Gray scored 10, Trevor Raisor scored seven, Lance Timberlake and Spud Baldwin scored four each, and Dylan Smith, Jake Hartlage, Eric Butler and Jared Payton scored two each. It was enough to avenge an early-season loss to Gallatin and force a tie-breaker for a potential top seed in the district tournament.

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.