They advanced to the tournament semifinals after defeating the Gallatin Green Wave by 24 points. On Tuesday, February 25th at Rossview High School, the Knights leveled the Mt. Juliet Bears, 60-38, and earned their spot in the championship game.
Jimario Rivers led the charge against the Bears. He earned a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds.“We knew we had a chance for that because he was bigger and more athletic than anybody that they had. So we knew that was a possibility,” Knights coach John Stigall said. “He’s playing well right now. He is being physical, not shying away from contact.”
The Bears simply did not have an answer for Rivers on either side of the ball. In addition to scoring almost at will, Rivers helped the Knights set the tone defensively.
Collectively, the Knights stifled the Bears offense, generating turnovers and limiting the Bears shot attempts by crashing the defensive boards.
“We defended a lot better tonight,” Stigall said. “They are a tough team to play because they run a lot of different set plays and a lot of different things you have to prepare for. I thought our guys did a good job communicating and staying aware of everything that was going on. That team can make you look silly if you’re not concentrating. They made enough shots to win. I’m proud of our defensive efforts tonight.”
The Bears were held to only 26 points in the second half, eight in the final period.
All five Knight’s starters scored in the game. In addition to Rivers 25, Daniel Norl added 16 and Kenya Mosley scored 9 points.
While their efforts did not show in the stat line, Mosley and Legree Hairston hustled to make clutch plays all game.
“Kenya is playing well for us, and Legree is just steady,” Stigall said. “No way we could do what we are doing without Legree. He is so important to our team.”
The turning point in the game came in the second period. A 5-0 run that included a 3-pointer by Mt. Juliet’s Reagan Johnson at the end of the first period helped the Bears come from behind to tie the game at 12.
However, back-to-back baskets by Daniel Norl ignited a Knights 10-0 run in the beginning of the second period. The Knights defense settled in while their offense found another gear.
The Knights out scored the Bears 14-4 in the second period, giving them a 10-point lead at halftime, 26-16.
From there, the Knights charged on without looking back.
The Bears offense recovered in the third period, but while they scored points they failed to stop the Knights from scoring. By the end of the third, they were behind by nine points, 41-30.
The lead jumped to double digits when Rivers made two free throws at the end of a Knights 6-0 run with five minutes left in the game. The Bears would not get closer than 12 points the rest of the game.
The Bears shot 9-of-19 from the field and 2-of-5 from the free throw line in the second half. Johnson led the Bears with 18 points.
The Knights scored 19 points in the final period including 11-of-13 from the free throw line.
The Knights will play Wilson Central in the Region 5-AAA Tournament Championship Game Thursday night at Rossview High School at 7:00pm. They go into the game having beaten their last two opponents by an average of 23 points.
Kenwood 12 14 15 19 – 60
Mt. Juliet 12 4 14 8 – 38
Jimario Rivers 25, Daniel Norl 16, Matthew Norl 6, Kenya Mosley 9, Legree Hairston 4.
James Womack 4, John Mark Bell 8, Reagan Johnson 18, Daniel Shroder 8.