STORY AND PHOTO BY JAKE DONOVAN
In drawing Cane Ridge in the opening round of the 2018 Middle Tennessee Invitational Tournament, the Nolensville Knights gunned for a repeat of their 75-71 thriller earlier this month.
The magic was there for about a half before the bottom eventually fell out. The Knights saw a first-half lead give way to a runaway 3rd quarter from which they couldn’t recover in a 76-61 loss Thursday evening at Franklin High School.
Kyle Elliott led the Ravens and all scorers with 25, draining five three-pointers. Brandon Miller scored all 11 of his points in the second half for Cane Ridge, which saw eight different players score during the session.
Senior center Nate Bloedorn scored 22 for the Knights, whose offense went cold during the second half.
“We just didn’t have that sustained energy for all four quarters and it really showed late in the game,” Nolensville head coach Wes Lambert told Home Page. “On nights when we’re at full strength, we can run with any team in middle Tennessee.
“When we don’t have that same energy, we get results like tonight. There are too many good teams in this tournament for us to expect to win the way we played (on Thursday).”
There was plenty of back-and-forth action during the first 20 minutes of game time. Senior sharpshooters Elliot and Nolensville’s Jayden Watkins (18 points) had the hot hand during the first half, trading three-pointers early. Elliott was primarily the Ravens’ offense through two quarters, a tactic the Knights sought to exploit through the second quarter and taking a one-point lead into halftime.
It was the last time they’d enjoy that status.
Caleb Wilson (8 points) fired off a three right out the gate to begin the second half, with the Ravens reclaiming a lead they would never relinquish. Back-to-back dunks by the 6’7” Bloedorn had the Knights within two midway through the 3rd quarter, but Cane Ridge caught the hot hand following a time-out.
Miller scored six points in the final four minutes of a 27-point 3rd quarter for the Ravens, who went on a 15-2 run to open the game wide open.
“To be honest, they didn’t look all that different from the team we played on December 15,” noted Lambert. “Unfortunately, we did look very different and it showed here. We have to correct it and concentrate on the road ahead of us.”
Nolensville will return to Franklin High School on Friday, where they will face Clarksville’s West Creek High School in a consolation bracket matchup. Neither team can fare better than 5th place in the tournament.
Cane Ridge will square off with Stratford High School—who bested West Creek in an overtime thriller in the first boys’ game on Thursday—to determine who will advance to the tournament championship.