A season second to none: Rebel basketball reaches Division II-A Championship game

NASHVILLE – The shots kept falling for the Knoxville Webb Spartans.

It was as if they played in the Allen Arena on the campus of Lipscomb University on a regular basis. The hot shooting night came just in time for Spartans to overwhelm the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels in the Division II-A Boys State Basketball championship game 75-40.

“They came out and they were knocking down shots,” Rebels senior guard Tysen Banks said. “I mean it’s certain things you can do about that. But sometimes you can’t do anything about it. I’m sure they were well over 50 percent from the field in the first quarter. Even if you were contesting their shots, they still were knocking them down.”

The TRA Rebels are presented with their runner-up trophy Saturday night in Allen Arena. Photos by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Webb jumped out 29-18 after one quarter behind the hot shooting of Luke Burnett and MVP Uriah Powers. The Rebels tried to keep pace behind the scoring of sophomore forward Alex Anderson. He finished with 21 points to join teammate Banks on the All-Tournament team.

The Rebels tried to steal momentum and fight back into the contest in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 42-30 after a Reginald Lewis triple.

“They did a great job of having the game go at their tempo,” TRA Head Coach Cedric Anderson said. “The guys fought back. I think we got to 12 right within the last few seconds of the half. And we had the foul and the subsequent technical that I think they scored three points on them. It gave them momentum.”

TRA sophomore forward Alex Anderson floats to the basket for a shot against Knoxville Webb during the State championship game Saturday night.

Webb won the third quarter 18-5, leading to the victory and golden basketball. TRA would take home the silver basketball after a magical run to the title game, which included a West Regional championship.

As the seconds ticked away on the Allen Arena scoreboard, Coach Anderson had to embrace his older son Andrew one last time as his high school point guard. The leader of the Rebels had to watch the final moments of other seniors like Nathan Bradley, Kam Collier, Howard Gray, Jalen Mansfield, Ryan Knight and Banks.

“I was trying my best to hold it together for them and for the rest of my family here in attendance,” he acknowledged. “Trying to maintain my bearing because it was hard to see my son in that situation. Alex in that situation as a younger brother was showing a lot of emotion for his older brother. Tysen our cousin and Howard Gray is like a son to me with all the time we’ve been together. And he wasn’t able to play all year because of the injury.

“It was tough. It’s tough now but when we get back in this locker room I’m going to really reflect with my boys and let them know how much I love them,” Coach Anderson added. “Being Coach and dad all this time, people don’t realize it’s already a difficult job being a father in 2019. But when you’re trying to be a coach and mentor for your sons as well as other young men, it takes a lot out of you.”

Early in the third quarter of the 2019 TSSAA Division II-A Boys State Championship game, Tipton-Rosemark Academy Head Coach Cedric Anderson embraces his son/point guard Andrew moments after his fifth foul against the Knoxville Webb Spartans in Nashville’s Allen Arena.

Anderson’s players put a lot into the program to restore it back to this level. The last time TRA reached the title game was back in 2008, losing to Harding Academy in overtime.

“When we came in, I had the mindset that we were going to get to this point,” Andrew said. “I just believed that. Everyone came in and we all worked hard. We bought into the system and it all played out.”

Banks said despite coming up short in the 2019 title game, the 2018-19 Rebels have won in so many other ways.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of teammates, better group of brothers to be around,” he said. “We worked hard all year for it. We got to this point. It’s something Coach said to us, ‘Y’all have to realize any other team in Tennessee in our division would rather be here to play right now.’

“We took that in and sort of cherished the moment,” Banks added. “We realized we beat the odds and got here to the State championship. We just couldn’t get the job done. (Webb) was a well-coached team, a wonderful team.”

Coach Anderson said he wants his 2019 Rebels to be remembered as a wonderful team as well.

“As we sit down and have some time to reflect on this, we all will appreciate this special ride these young men have taken us on,” he concluded. “The whole Tipton-Rosemark family and community will really appreciate this as we look back on it.”