- Travis Dockery
Tough night in The Hive
For the second night in a row, The Hive was alive on the campus of Hayesville High School as the Yellow Jacket basketball teams welcomed Smoky Mountain Conference foe, Swain County.
In the varsity boys showdown, Swain got out to a 5-0 start, but 3-point master Ethan Hooper cut into that lead with a shot from behind the arch. A steal by Logan Caldwell and a charge from Taylor McClure kept the Jackets on the attack. Physicality was a part of the game throughout the opening stanza, which fired up both fan bases. Isaac Chandler put the Jackets ahead with a bucket and foul shot with under a minute to go. The buzzer sounded with Hayesville up 15-13.
Quarter two started out as a sprint when both teams went into a run and gun style offense. Fast breaks and high-speed passes kept the fans on their feet. Hayesville's student section erupted when Asher Brown nailed a 3-pointer from the corner. Emotions built and exploded when Swain's head coach was called for a technical foul. That put Hooper on the line. He hit one shot and the Jackets got the ball. Swain held the ball until 15 seconds were left on the clock then called a timeout to set up the potential final shot. The Devils missed their opportunity and Kyle Lunsford grabbed the rebound, headed down the court and just missed a buzzer-beater. Hayesville took a 24-22 lead into the break.
The first points of the second half came from a jumper out of the hands of Logan Caldwell at the 6:30 mark of the third quarter. Swains' defense started using a full-court press that generated steals and turnover which the Devils turned into points to regain the lead. Swain's run gave them a 40-30 lead as time ran out on the third quarter.
A technical foul called on a Maroon Devil less than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter put Hooper on the line where he sank both shots. Hayesville started tightening the coverage on defense, forcing Swain to make forced passes and shots. Stops on defense coupled with huge 3-pointers brought Jacket Nation to its collective feet with screams of approval. With 3:13 left in the game, Caldwell dropped another long range shot to pull Hayesville to within 3, 44-41.
The Devils called a timeout with 1:36 left to play, after they had grown their lead to 8 points. Hayesville lost Caldwell to a foul out and 7-straight fouls pretty much sealed the Jackets' fate and ended any hope of a rally. The Jackets fought until the final buzzer, but left The Hive on the wrong end of a 55-46 score.
The Lady Yellow Jackets entered the night looking to get back in the win column by replicating the results when they played Swain earlier in the season.
The Lady Maroon Devils got on the board first, but Lila Roberts put Hayesville out front with a 3-pointer. The pace of the game game increased with steals on both ends of the floor. Ava Shook contributed with a jump shots and and old-fashioned 3-point play. Breanna Abrams was fouled hard going to the basket and made the most of her trip to the line, sinking both shots. Hayesville ended the first quarter up 12-6.
The Lady Jackets' scoring success dried up early in the second quarter. Swain managed to find their offensive footing and with 3:30 left in the half, tied things up at 12-12. A successful trip to the free throw line gave Swain their first lead of the night. The halftime horn sounded with the Lady Devils leading 16-15.
In the third, both teams were able to add to their to point totals in the opening seconds. While the quarter was a pretty even one, Swain managed to extend their lead, 26-21. Hayesville solid defense kept them within striking distance, but the Lady Jackets struggled to get shots to fall. With 2:00 left in the game and down by 8, the Lady Jackets displayed urgency and physicality. A turnover with under a minute to go squashed any hope of a Hayesville comeback and the Lady Devils picked up the 38-29 win.
On the JV side of things, the Lady Jackets came in hopeful after they plaid the Lady Devils close in Swain. However, turnovers killed any chance Hayesville had at picking up a win as the lost 36-9.
For the JV Jackets, a quick start from the Devils had Hayesville playing catch-up from the opening minutes. In the third, the Jackets pulled within 3 points, but entered the fourth quarter down 37-31. Questionable fouls, no calls and strong play from Swain under the basket allowed the Devils to pull away and clinch the 57-44 victory.