Sounds of fans cheering could be heard down Rosemark Road due to the Tipton Rosemark boys’ basketball team advancing to the Division II-A state tournament after beating Knoxville Webb 50-48 in a thrilling battle Saturday night at home.
This will be the second time in three years the TRA boys will be going to compete in the final four. The Rebels (17-3) open state tournament play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Cookeville vs. Christ Presbyterian Academy (28-4)
“All the work has been finally paying off, but the job ain’t done yet,” said Senior Alex Anderson, the only current Rebel who started on the team that made it to the state finals two years ago.
The Rebels had to beat tough teams en route to state: Harding Academy, a talented team who gave them trouble in the first half of the game; First Assembly Christian School, which defeated them in five out of the last six meetings; and Evangelical Christian School, which features top-ranked point guard Kameron Jones; and, finally, Knoxville Webb, which beat them in the state finals in 2019.
“It’s one play at a time,” said TRA head Coach Cedric Anderson when asked what advice he gave his players through the postseason, which included four games in seven days. “Take care of your responsibility at that particular place.”
Knoxville Webb came into the game on a 3-point shooting spree as Lukas Walls knocked down three of the four 3-pointers to give his team a 17-15 lead in the first quarter.
Junior Tyler Byrd answered back for the Rebels with 11 points in the second quarter and led them to a 29-28 lead.
“My team always pushes me to be better,” said Byrd, who led TRA with 27 points. “Whatever I do they are always on me, and they always put me in the right position to score and do whatever I need to do for the team.”
The 3-point shooting game was active for Knoxville Webb again in the third quarter as they made another four 3-pointers to give them a 42-37 lead going into the fourth.
The Rebels had been in that position earlier in the week when they trailed ECS going into the fourth quarter. Once again, Rosemark bounced back.
Rosemark’s defense shut down Knoxville Webb, only allowing six points in the fourth quarter, and their offense pulled through by scoring 17 to earn the win.
“State champions, that is the only thing on our mind,” said Alex Anderson.