Balanced attack leads Gryphons over Bearcats

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 07:39 PM

Not only did the Thomas Jefferson Gryphons earn their first win of the 2013 season Friday night at Cool Springs, they got their first ever win over Hendersonville with a 69-58 triumph over the Bearcats.

“That’s a good win for us but it’s a great win for the school,” TJCA head coach Ken Hines said after the game.

Hendersonville looked in control early with a 6-0 run before Nick Mintz halted the run with a 3 from the top of the arc.

With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, Chris Mintz cut the lead back to three points with a three-point play that ignited a 6-0 Gryphon run to end the quarter giving TJCA (1-1) a 17-14 lead.

Reserve guard Jalen Simmons took over for the Gryphons in the second quarter knocking down a trio of 3-pointers as Thomas Jefferson built a 36-27 lead at the half.

“(Simmons) is a scorer and I expect him to come in and score,” Hines said.

A three-point play by Brooks Corder and a highlight-reel putback by Mason Fenner stretched the TJCA lead to 10 points, 45-35, with five minutes left in the third quarter, but the Bearcats fought back to within two with just over two minutes left in the third, 47-45.

“I expect Mason (Fenner) to play that way,” Hines said. “He’s a good scorer but he really showed other aspects of his game tonight. Mason is the type of kid that’s going to perform and put in that effort.”

A Fenner 3 just before the buzzer restoring the Gryphons lead to nine points, 55-46, heading into the fourth quarter.

Hendersonville’s full-court pressure haunted the Gryphons in the final quarter as their lead dwindled to just four points, 57-53, with five minutes left in the game.

“We just need to settle down, relax and not rush,” Hines said. “We got in a hurry and that’s not how we want to play. We want to dribble the ball through the press and not pass it through.”

However, timely offensive rebounds and putbacks by Fenner and Corder rebuild the lead to 64-54 with 1:30 left in the game.

The Gryphons’ shooting from the charity stripe was good enough in the closing seconds to hold off the Bearcats for the 69-58 win.

“When it came to crunch time we kept our composure. We never folded and we kept our heads up,” Hines said. “We didn’t do everything well but we did enough to win.”

Nick Mintz led the Gryphons with 17 points while Chris Mintz scored 15 and Fenner and Simmons each had 12.

“Good balance scoring is always good. It means that everyone is getting some touches,” Hines said. “It wasn’t a surprise to me. We’ve been working hard and I expect even more of them to get into double figures.”

TJCA returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 11 as they host North Henderson.