by darren reese
RUTLEDGE - Even when they didn't have their best stuff, the Greeneville Middle boys were good enough to be crowned champions.
The Devils made just five field goals in the second half of Monday's showdown with Maury in the Middle Eight Conference tournament finals, but still managed to pull away for a 39-29 victory.
It marked the Devils' first conference title since 2009. They are now 18-2 overall and are scheduled to compete in the TMSAA region tournament next week.
"All the credit goes to these boys and my great assistant coaches," Greeneville head coach Bill Muhlhahn said. "This was just a great group of guys this year. They are hard workers, on the court and in the classroom, and they deserve all the success they've had this year."
Greeneville got things done with strong rebounding and a stifling defense.
Maury's Zack Rogers sank a basket in the final seconds of the third quarter to pull his team within 29-24, but the Hornets wouldn't make another shot from the field the rest of the game.
"I thought things got sloppy there in the third quarter but we did a good job of controlling the boards," Muhlhahn said.
"We held the ball there some in the second half, trying to limit their possessions, and that may have taken us out of our rhythm a little bit."
Greeneville held a 33-20 advantage on the boards for the game, led by Takeem Young with 10 rebounds.
Leau-Alston Williams scored 13 points and pulled down eight boards for the Devils.
Dylan DeBusk added ten points the victory, followed by Young with eight.
Rogers finished with nine points for Maury.
DeBusk and Dawson Martin each drained a pair of key three-pointers in the second quarter to change the momentum of the game.
Maury led 12-9 after the first quarter and maintained that advantage for the first few minutes of the second.
But back-to-back three-pointers by Martin gave Greeneville a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
DeBusk connected on his two treys in the final minutes of the half, including one at the buzzer, to make it a 23-18 game at the break.
"I thought in the early going, Maury had all the momentum," Muhlhahn said. "Those three points were huge and really got us going."
The pace of the game slowed tremendously in the second half. Greeneville was just 3-of-12 from the field in the third quarter, while Maury was 3-of-8.
There were only two shots made the entire fourth period - both by Greeneville - and the Devils eventually extended their lead to double digits. DeBusk and Martin both made key free throws down the stretch to help preserve the cushion.
lady devils fall to Maury in 3rd-place game
In the girls' third-place game, No. 4 seed Maury jumped out to a first-half lead over second-seeded Greeneville and went on to win 34-27.
The second half was sloppy for both teams. Maury scored just three point in the third quarter, while the Lady Devils were limited to three in the fourth.
Alexandria Alder and Julia Codispoti each scored 13 points to lead the Lady Hornets. Alder sank a pair of key fourth-quarter threes that kept her team in front.
Only three players made a field goal for Greeneville in the contest. Sydni Lollar led the Lady Devils with 11 points, Sydney Leonard added 10 and Lauren Albright five. Mackenzie Ellenburg tossed in a free throw to make the team total.
In the boys' third-place game, fourth-seeded Rutledge defeated No. 3 seed Jefferson.