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Diamond-studded South reaches Region 1-AA semis

By Gene Renfro, Sports Correspondent • Feb 24, 2019 at 3:25 AM

KINGSPORT — One collection of Rebels was going to advance from the TSSAA Region 1-AA boys basketball quarterfinal matchup Saturday.

The Rebels moving on to Tuesday’s semifinal turned out to be the ones from Sullivan South, which defeated the visitors from South Greene 79-70.

After advancing in regional play for the first time since 2015, South (21-12) will play either Greeneville or Unicoi County at Happy Valley. That quarterfinal game was postponed because of flooding.

View the photo gallery from the game

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

The first quarter saw South Greene (16-14) run out to a 17-8 lead, a stretch during which Ty Bailey poured in seven of his 12 total points.

But the second quarter saw South’s Ben Diamond shine. He put up 10 of his game-best 33 points in the period, and the home team took a 28-25 lead into halftime after Diamond went coast to coast with a layup at the buzzer.

“It was a game of runs. We would go on one, they would go on one,” South coach Michael McMeans said. “I’m glad our kids never gave up and kept fighting.

“We had a great run in the second quarter. I thought when we started getting the ball in transition, it changed the game for us.”

The fourth quarter was a scoring free-for-all. South Greene fired up 35 points over the final eight minutes, an outburst that helped the visitors get within six, 73-67, with 1:04 left on a Landon Brown 3-pointer.

Brown scored 17 of his 22 points in the fourth. Connor Schultz also had five points in the period and finished with 22.

Diamond did his part in South’s 30-point fourth quarter by going 14-for-16 at the free-throw line. Cole Layne added six of his 18 points in the final frame, and Chase Bowery contributed 16 points.

LOOKING AHEAD

South beat possible regional semifinal foe Unicoi County twice this season by a total of seven points.

The last time South played Greeneville was in a region quarterfinal that went to the Greene Devils by a 71-47 count.

OVER AND OUT

South Greene’s season ended with the program’s third consecutive appearance in the region tournament.

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