Whitehaven upends Bartlett to earn second straight state tournament berth

By Updated: March 05, 2019 9:45 AM CT | Published: March 04, 2019 11:17 PM CT

For one quarter Monday, Bartlett looked exactly like the team that had spent much of the year atop the state's basketball rankings.

But the other three quarters belonged to Whitehaven. And as a result, the Tigers will be the team with the opportunity to bring home the gold ball.

Whitehaven responded from a disastrous third quarter by outscoring the Panthers 24-11 over the final eight minutes to win going away, 65-49. It's the second consecutive trip for coach Faragi Phillips' team.

"We've had heart, man. All season long," he said.

Whitehaven's ferocious defense is the reason it's headed back to Murfreesboro. Bartlett had nearly as many turnovers as points in the first half, coughing it up 14 times to trail 29-15. 

The Tigers stretched their advantage to 33-17 early in the third on a Kavion McClain 3-pointer. But Bartlett gradually began working its way back into the game, thanks to its own suffocating defense which forced nine turnovers in the quarter.

Wynne Brown gave the Panthers a 38-37 lead late and Bartlett was only down 41-38 heading into the fourth. But Devine Owens scored five quick points to give Whitehaven some breathing room and the Tigers didn't look back.

"We've been in those positions before," said Phillips of his team's shaky third quarter. "We've been behind the eight-ball, having to fight and struggle. We had an opportunity to look ourselves in the mirror and ask, 'are we going to crack or are we going to stand firm in what we believe in?'" 

Whitehaven will be joined by East in Murfreesboro. Mr. Basketball finalist James Wiseman recorded his second straight triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks as the Mustangs downed Bolton, 85-67, to advance for the fifth consecutive year.

Antonio Thomas added 14 for East, while Kylan Haywood and Nautica Harwell chipped in with 13 each. Ramon Ryan led the Wildcats with 18.

East – which has won the last three titles – and Whitehaven could only meet in the championship game due to a rule that places teams from the same region on opposite sides of the bracket. The two teams have already played four times this year with East winning three. The Mustangs also defeated the Tigers in the 2018 championship game, 72-50.

Memphis will also be represented by two teams in the Class AA tournament.

Johnathan Lawson had a triple-double (13 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) and his older brother, Mr. Basketball finalist Chandler, collected 20 points and 10 boards as Wooddale advanced to state for the first time in school history, 67-54 over South Gibson. Alvin Miles added 14 for the Cardinals (31-4).

Mitchell, meanwhile, advanced for the 10th time in 14 seasons with a 51-44 victory over Crockett County. As with Whitehaven and East, the Cardinals and the Tigers could only match up in the championship game.

And the city's Class A contender could well be the hottest team of the bunch. Manassas won its 21st consecutive game, 78-64, over Trenton Peabody to advance for the first time since 2014. Mr. Basketball finalist Catthadious Moore scored 24 to lead the Tigers (31-3), who will take a 21-game winning streak into their quarterfinal game. Jalen Robinson added 19 points while Wendell Rogers had 16.

MAHS' season came to an end in the other sub-state game as Humboldt won in overtime, 62-60.

The draw for the boys tournaments will be held Tuesday in Murfreesboro, prior to the announcement of this year's Mr. and Miss Basketball winners at 7 p.m.


TSSAA Whitehaven High Bartlett High Wooddale High Mitchell High Manassas High East High Bolton High
John Varlas

John Varlas

John Varlas is a lifelong Memphian who has covered high school sports in various capacities for over 20 years.

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