MORGANTON – If the McDowell Titans disappeared in their loss to R-S Central in the semifinals of the Freedom Christmas Tournament Thursday, they certainly returned Friday – with a vengeance.
McDowell (10-2) put on a devastating offensive clinic en route to a 108-89 win over the Caldwell Academy Eagles in the tourney’s third-place game.
The Eagles (8-5) stayed close for a quarter, but a 31-11 second period onslaught by the Titans broke open the game. McDowell led 60-39 at the break and never looked back.
The Titans dominated every aspect of play, shooting a red-hot 58 percent from the field (38-of-66) and out-rebounding the taller Eagles 44-28 overall and 10-7 offensively.
Senior wing Skyler McKinney scored 24 of his game-high 32 points in the first half, and added 16 rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block to his ridiculous stat line.
Point guard Kevin Silver poured in 29 points, 18 of them in the first half, dished six assists and pulled four boards. Silver went 5-of-11 from 3-point range. Post Travis Corpening added 22 points, making 9-of-13 shots and grabbing nine boards.
Junior Dylan McRary, starting his second game in a row in place of injured senior Antoine Lindsey, added 16 points and pulled seven rebounds.
“After a disappointing loss, you want to see the kids come back with some fire and compete and really play hard, and that’s what you saw tonight,” said Titans head coach Brian Franklin. “I thought our kids did a lot of good things, especially on the offensive end, against a really good Caldwell team with two kids I think are really good. We really attacked the basket and got it inside to the post, and when we got in there we pitched it out and made some 3s. I thought we did a much better job of rebounding tonight.”
Caldwell Academy put three players in the 20s in a losing effort, but it wasn’t enough. Guard Greyson Collins went off for a team-high 26. Freshman point guard K.J. Garrett added 22 points to go with seven rebounds. Senior guard Williams Collis scored 21 on seven 3-pointers.
All three came out blazing as the Eagles stayed neck-and-neck with the Titans in a wild first quarter that saw three ties and 18 lead changes. The two clubs played at a frantic pace, and essentially traded the lead every 10 seconds for an eight-minute quarter.
When the smoke cleared, the Titans led 29-28 despite Caldwell Academy’s seven 3-pointers.
But McDowell never surrendered the lead again.
The Titans led 36-30 when they went on an 11-0 run that gave them control. McRary’s 3 off a McKinney assist started the rally and made it 39-30 with 6:15 to go before halftime.
Corpening scored on a follow shot, and then Silver banged home a triple in transition off a McKinney assist, drew a foul and converted the four-point play. McKinney’s layup on a Silver assist seconds later made it 47-30 with 4:47 left in the half.
Caldwell Academy (Greensboro) got within 79-60 after three quarters, and briefly closed to within 13 when Collins’ free throws made it 95-82 with 2:08 to go.
But Corpening made four straight charity shots over the next 18 seconds of game time to stretch the lead back to 99-82.
Silver made two shots after a technical foul to push the Titans past the 100-point mark with 1:36 to play.
“It ended up being a really fun game,” said Franklin. “It’s got to be fun for the crowd when the two teams score almost 200 points between them.
“Skyler was amazing, just the way he played from start to finish. Coming off a game that wasn’t one of his better ones, I thought Kevin was laser-focused, and you could tell it in the shoot-around.”
As much fun as Friday’s game was, Franklin said the Titans’ three-day run in the tourney would help prepare them for the grueling Northwestern 3A/4A Conference schedule to come.
“What we really want to do over Christmas is when we come out of it, be a lot better team than we were,” said Franklin. “I think these three days have shown us some things we can really do, and they’ve also shown us some things we really need to work on and that we’re not very good at. It also teaches us a lesson that if we play like we did the second night against R-S Central, we’re just not good enough to have success like that.”
McDowell is 2-0 in league play and travels to NWC foe Watauga next Wednesday.
Caldwell Academy (89) Greyson Collins 11-21 3-5 26, K.J. Garrett 7-16 6-10 22, Williams Collis 7-16 0-0 21, Young 1-4 0-0 3, Ty Cressman 2-7 3-4 8, Davis Leonard 1-2 0-0 3, Sam Plasman 0-1 0-0 0, Will Miller 3-4 0-0 8, Josh Childers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 32-72 12-19 89.
McDowell (108) Skyler McKinney 11-17 10-12 32, Caden Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Travis Corpening 9-13 4-6 22, Dylan McRary 6-9 2-5 16, Kevin Silver 8-20 8-9 29, Adam Randolph 2-2 0-0 4, J.C. Olivo 2-4 1-2 5. Totals: 38-66 25-34 108.
Caldwell Academy 28 11 21 29 – 89
McDowell 29 31 19 29 – 108
Rebounds: CA (28) McDowell (44) Rebound leaders: CA (Garrett 7) McDowell (McKinney 16, Corpening 9, McRary 7) 3-point goals: CA (13-33) McDowell (7-17) CA (Collins 1-7, Garrett 2-7, Collis 7-12, Young 1-3, Cressman, Leonard 1-2) McDowell (Silver 5-11, McRary 2-4, McKinney 0-2) McDowell assist leaders: (Silver, McKinney 6) McDowell steals leaders: (McRary, McKinney 1) McDowell blocked shot leaders: (McKinney 1) Turnovers: CA (8) McDowell (13) Fouled out: CA (Young 1:50—fourth) Technical foul (CA—team)