Eagles complete undefeated 8-AAA season
It was Senior Night and Shelbyville Central's four seniors led the way, combining to score 53 points in the Golden Eagles' 74-38 blowout over rival Tullahoma in a District 8-AAA matchup Friday night.
For what is believed to be the first time in school history, the No. 4-ranked Eagles completed the regular-season district schedule undefeated.
Shelbyville (26-2, 12-0 in 8-AAA) won their 13th in a row and their only two losses came to a pair of powerful teams from Georgia in the Deep South Classic.
"What an accomplishment by these kids, to be able to go 12-0 in this the district just shows how consistent this group has been all year long," Eagle coach Kevin Thomas said. "They went undefeated at home in the regular season and I've said it all season long, this team has a great desire to win basketball games."
This win closes out the home and district portions of the Eagles' schedule but a pair of road games remain, at Blackman on Tuesday and at Giles County Friday.
"We finish out the regular season with two games on the road in two tough environments," Thomas said. "These will be games that will help get us more mentally focused for tournaments.
"I know a lot of people will be look at the Blackman game and I would suspect that the tape of that game will be distributed all over Murfreesboro through that district. I can assure you that we're going in with the mindset to win that game but at this point I think we'll keep it pretty basic."
Central dominated from start to finish, taking a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Senior Matt Johnson fascinated the nearly packed gym with a dunk down the baseline, leading the way with eight points in the first eight minutes.
Dequan Twilley started the second period with back-to-back 3-pointers, then followed with a pair of free throws to increase the lead to 25-6 with 6:13 left in the first half.
The Eagles were up 32-18 at intermission.
Senior Barry Stewart showed why he's being mentioned as one of the top players in the state, scoring 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.
Shelbyville posted a 46-30 lead after three periods, then outscored the Wildcats 28-8 in the fourth quarter, including 11 points from a number of younger guys who got some valuable playing time.
"I just can't say enough about the play of our four seniors tonight," Thomas said. "Matt Johnson just came out and dominated in the first quarter and played with a lot of intensity, Dequan Twilley had a great first half, Barry Stewart took over in the third quarter and Demario Ragland hit a big three early and played well also."
Two other players joined Stewart in double figures.
Dequan Twilley netted 14 and Johnson added a dozen.
The Eagles cashed in on 13-of-15 free throw attempts while Tullahoma connected on 16-of-21.
Shelbyville outrebounded the Wildcats 39-26.
Stewart led the way with nine boards while Robbie Rowland grabbed eight.
"We talked about the importance of free throw shooting and rebounding at practice on Thursday and how important those two components of the game are if you're going to advance in the tournament," Thomas said.
Karl Rogers led Tullahoma with 17 points, including 9-of-10 from the foul line, while the Eagle defense held talented guard Cass Barnes to only six points.