The Commerce basketball team put the rest of Region 8-A Public on alert Tuesday (Jan. 12) with its shocking upset win at No. 10 Towns County.
The Tigers stunned the Indians 70-68 after Jackson Morris’s fast break in the closing seconds. Morris finished the game with 19 points, but none were bigger than those last two.
Three other Tigers reached double-figures. Matthew Simpson trailed Morris with 16 points. Cayden Lord added 14 points while Jansen Morris scored 11 points.
“It was the best trip we’ve had to Hiawassee in a long time,” said head coach Russ Gregg. “It was a total team effort. It was not one kid, it was the whole team. It’s very exciting for us to beat a team like that who’s been a state champion and is ranked No. 10 in the state.
“You always want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year. I thought our non-region schedule really helped us. There were some tough games and we learned how to win. We have to continue to do the little things like boxing out and taking good shots. I think if we can do that, things will continue to go well for us… .”
Towns County superstar Collin Crowder finished the game with 42 points. Gregg said he knew Crowder would be tough to beat so the game plan was to take away the Indians’ complimentary players. The rest of the Towns County roster only scored 26 points.
“We knew he was a really good player,” Gregg said. “He is extremely strong, physical and does a lot of good things.
“We keyed on stopping everyone else and that was huge for us tonight. I thought our defense did really well. We rebounded a lot better than what we had been doing.”
Commerce (6-8, 3-1 Region 8-A Public) and Towns County were tied 68-68 with the clock winding down. The Indians had the ball and planned on taking the last shot. Morris had other ideas.
He cleanly stripped Towns County’s ballhandler and there was no one between him and the rim. Morris sunk an uncontested layup with six seconds left to give Commerce the 70-68 lead.
Towns County had one shot to tie the game and it managed to reach the paint for the game-tying shot. Coy Argo had his heroic moment when he blocked the shot at the buzzer to preserve the victory.
Commerce takes the momentum of the upset into Friday’s region game at Greene County (2-10, 1-2 Region 8-A Public).
COMMERCE 60, LINCOLN COUNTY 48
Commerce notched one in the region win column Friday (Jan. 7) with a double-digit victory over Lincoln County.
Matthew Simpson had a career-high 24 points and shot 10-of-12 from the floor. Jackson Morris added 13 points.
“I thought we played really well defensively against Lincoln County,” Gregg said. “We held them to 48 points and we did a good job forcing them to do what they didn’t want to do, and that is to shoot the outside shot.
“Matthew Simpson played really well offensively. Overall, it’s the best game he’s played since he’s been in high school. That was good to see.”
Commerce controlled the entire game. The Tigers led 15-9 after the first quarter and took a commanding 29-17 lead into halftime. Lincoln County kept Commerce from pulling away further in the second half, but the Tigers didn’t concede any type of comeback either.
UNION COUNTY 73, COMMERCE 65
Commerce took a break from region play Saturday (Jan. 8) to play Union County from Region 8-AA.
The Tigers battled a much larger Union County squad and had a chance to win at the end of regulation. Instead, the fourth quarter ended with the game tied 62-62. The Panthers pulled away in overtime to win 73-65.
“They’re big, they’re physical and I thought we played one of our better games honestly,” Gregg said. “They have a little more depth but I thought our kids hung in there. Jackson Morris played really well, Cayden Morris shot the ball really well. Matthew Simpson continued to play well. So, it was a total team effort.
“It would have been great to get a win, but the big things is that we’re gaining confidence in these non-region games.”
Lord and Jackson Morris each scored 17 points, and Matthew Simpson added 12 points. Kemanni Horne added 10 rebounds.