By Michael Lindsay
The Stone Memorial Panthers picked up a key District 7AAA road win Friday evening as they won at White County, 81-67.
The Panthers (19-3, 9-0) overcame a double-digit first-half deficit to win at Sparta (14-10, 4-5).
“It’s hard to win on the road,” said SMHS head coach Neil Capps. “I told the guys they’re a good road team, and they’re starting to believe me. It’s big; it moved us to 9-0 in a tough league. It doesn’t get any easier.”
Sophomore Cade Capps led the Panthers with 30 points, followed by Matthew Bilbrey scoring 22.
White County came out of the gate hot as they took a 26-16 lead over Stone Memorial late in the first period. Warrior forward Japheth Richmond scored 11 points in the opening period including two dunks.
“They really punched us in the mouth that first quarter,” coach Capps said. “We gave up 26 points, and that’s just not us. They were fighting and getting after it. We weren’t really ready to play, and that’s on me. Once they punched us in the mouth, we were ready to play. For the last three quarters, I really like how we competed.”
Stone Memorial weathered the storm and chipped away at the Sparta lead to take a 29-28 lead via a Cade Capps three-pointer with 5:10 remaining until halftime.
The lead traded hands multiple times throughout the second period with neither team holding more than a one-possession lead until another Capps three-pointer put Stone Memorial up 40-36 with 2:35 left in the second quarter. The Panthers held a 45-39 halftime advantage.
Stone Memorial locked in on both sides in the third quarter as they outscored the Warriors 22-11 in the frame to take a 67-50 lead.
Sparta would fight back to trim Stone Memorial’s lead to 11 points (69-58) with 4:05 to go.
“I knew no matter what our lead was, they were going to keep fighting,” Capps said. “There’s too much basketball tradition in this town to lay down. We knew they would give us that punch back, and being able to handle that pressure was big. Every kid on my roster, I couldn’t be more pleased with how they competed.”
The Panthers responded and pushed their lead back out to 16 points before winning by an 81-67 final.
Stone Memorial sits atop District 7AAA at a perfect 9-0 in league play and hosts Upperman on Tuesday. White County faces off against Warren County on Monday.
Stone Memorial (81): Cade Capps 30, Matthew Bilbrey 22, Brady Lane 9, Jayden Eldridge 6, Preston Mayberry 5, Wyatt Grothe 5, Blake Holt 2, Conner Bowman 2,
White County (67): Japheth Richmond 19, Tomas Paul 19, Jake Davis 10, Christian Henderson 10, Tripp Pinion 7, Thomas Brock 2