A winner from JaJuan Smith

HT Group in title game of Rocky Top League

JaJuan Smith took off his jersey and threw it into the crowd after draining a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.6 seconds left to lift the News Sentinel to a 132-129 win over First Tennessee in the Pilot Rocky Top League on Monday night at Bearden High School.

"It feels real good and this should send us to the championship,'' said Smith, a former University of Tennessee star who's still trying to latch on with an NBA team. "It was the moment, I got caught up in the moment.''

The winner of Wednesday's 9 p.m. game between Ray's ESG (3-2) and the News Sentinel (4-1) will play in the championship game against HT Group (4-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday night.

The Sentinel trailed First Tennessee (2-3) by as many as 18 points.

Some 30 seconds before stripping off his shirt, Smith stripped UT point guard Bobby Maze of the ball with the Sentinel trailing 129-127.

Smith drove to the basket and was intentionally fouled by Chattanooga's Ricky Taylor.

"I was just trying to stop him from going to the hole,'' Taylor said. "That's why I'm in this league, to learn.''

Smith made both free throws with 27.7 seconds left, and the Sentinel ran down the clock before taking the last shot.

"JaJuan and Dane (Bradshaw), the veterans of the team, finally fell in love with me and I fell in love with them,'' said UT rising sophomore Scotty Hopson, who scored 27 of his 41 points in the second half. "Our chemistry is coming together.''

And just in the nick of time, as Maze had kept the First Tennessee operation running smoothly, dishing out 10 assists to go with his 23 points.

"JaJuan baited the handoff, and he did a good job getting the ball,'' Maze said. "It's great getting to play a guy like JaJuan, who plays such great defense.''

Emmanuel Negedu of UT scored a personal-best 38 points for First Tennessee, as the Sentinel struggled to find anyone that could match up with him.

"You're going to see more of E-Man (Negedu) this year,'' Maze said. "He doesn't complain about anything, and he always plays hard.''

Former UT player Rashard Lee added 33 points, and Taylor had 25.

Smith had 22 points for the News Sentinel, UT's Brian Williams 21 and Skylar McBee had 19 while making 5 of 10 of his 3-point attempts.

"Never doubt us,'' said Bradshaw, who returned from his honeymoon in Hawaii for the game.

Isiah Victor had to return to his family in Kentucky and did not play in the game for First Tennessee as expected.

HT Group 125, ChoiceSpine 118: Wayne Chism scored 28 points to lead HT Group (4-1) to the title game again.

"Last year Tyler's team beat mine and we didn't get there,'' Chism said. "This would be my first time to get to the title.''

Cameron Tatum scored 35 points to lead ChoiceSpine (0-5) and Michael Smith of East Tennessee State added 31.

Chris Lofton did not play for ChoiceSpine, as he has left for Boston where he will play in the summer league for the Celtics.

Former UT player C.J. Black fell and hit his head early into the game and was forced to leave the ChoiceSpine lineup.

Ray's 120, Richardson Construction 118: C.J. Watson, a former UT player with the Golden State Warriors, scored 28 points, turning his level of play up a notch to keep Ray's ESG (3-2) alive in the playoff picture.

UT incoming freshman Kenny Hall hit both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw situation for the winning points with 14.4 seconds left. Hall had 24 points, Ryan Westbrooks had 23, Chris Conner had 18 and Jon Higgins 16 for Ray's.

Former UT player Damon Johnson looked for the last shot for Richardson Construction (2-3), but Watson switched over on him and smothered Johnson's shot attempt at the buzzer.

Tony White Jr. of College of Charleston led Richardson Construction with 28 points, hitting 9 of 17 of his 3-pointers, while UT's Tyler Smith had 22 and Johnson and UT's Josh Tabb 20 apiece.

Ray's can play in the title game with a win over the News Sentinel Wednesday and has at least clinched a spot in the 3-4 game at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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Comments » 17

golfballs03 writes:

Jajuan is the man... I hope he makes a team, once he gets there I think he can surprise some people... he makes his team better.

golfballs03 writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maze will be fine

ClayMolder (Inactive) writes:

smith is very good. nba is full of very very good off-guard/small forwards. gotta be super special to play at that level.

that's why tyler smith stayed home. best wishes for both smiths, chism and lofton.

spacificislander writes:

in response to wlvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Haven't they won at least 20 games every season since Pearl took over? I would bet the players know it is a summer league and not league play. This league is about staying in shape (which is one reason why most UT players play nearly the entire game), and generating fan excitement for the upcoming season (the other reason most UT player play nearly the entire game.)

richvol writes:

Negedu would be all-SEC if Pearl gives him the minutes.

BxVol writes:

in response to richvol:

Negedu would be all-SEC if Pearl gives him the minutes.

Coach and his staff know what they are doing.There is a reason why our Coach Pearl has one of the highest winning percentages of any active coach.Since Coach Pearl has been a Vol we have played many elite basketball schools.We have a chance to be special this upcoming season and go where no UT team has ever gone before.

FeelVol writes:

in response to richvol:

Negedu would be all-SEC if Pearl gives him the minutes.

Agreed richvol,I liked what Maze said about him,never complains and plays hard a good recipe for a team player.We all saw what this guy is capable off this past season.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to wlvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude, these are pick-up games. Calm down. All the players know that these games don't translate to NCAA or NBA play. They're just having fun and we're having fun watching them.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

Man, I'm getting tired of seeing Bobby hit the rim in almost every shot. He's a solid player, but it's quite shocking how sub-par his jump shot is. I think he's the fastest and best ball handler on the team, and he knows how to create. Unfortunately, he has trouble finishing and I really hope Bruce helping him with that.

How exciting was it to watch E-man play like that? I think he and BigBaby are going to be battling for Chism's relief. On that note, I'm pretty disappointed with Brian Williams's game...

Orangeblood13 writes:

lol

its pick up guys, give em a break

Maze will better this year, book it

knoxnewsuser writes:

What did the fans do with the jersey?...Throw it back at the court?

Bristol writes:

JaJuan, good to hear about you again. I wish my favorite player all the best for a successful future.

TrouserCough writes:

in response to golfballs03:

Maze will be fine

really?

BasketVols writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eating fried chicken make more bones that not lie...

Yuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Not enough fried chicken in Chicago. :-(

Witchie D in 2012!

Brentwoodvol writes:

in response to wlvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only joke is you!! They have won more than that every year CBP has been here. I guess we could have them sitting on a couch and eating chips. Would that make you happy. This is a free country so speak you piece but gee know what your talking about!!!

Bigger_Al writes:

Fun stuff!

And as Al McGuire and Bobby Knight always liked to say, "The best thing about Freshmen is that they become Sophomores". Bodes well for Hopson and Negadu!

sizeDD writes:

in response to Brentwoodvol:

The only joke is you!! They have won more than that every year CBP has been here. I guess we could have them sitting on a couch and eating chips. Would that make you happy. This is a free country so speak you piece but gee know what your talking about!!!

I agree with wlvol, this league is a joke if used to evaluate basketball players, love BP and the vols but will temper my excitement until the team shows a vastly improved basketball IQ

As the great JW use to say "BOTTOM"!

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