Despite early offensive struggles, fifth-seeded Farragut defeated Payton 54-36 in the Class 3A Farragut Regional semifinal and advanced to play third-seeded Fenwick on Friday for the regional title.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, missing layups and committing unforced turnovers en route to a 17-11 Admiral halftime-lead.
Senior Ashawn Jones made sure the Farragut offense got on track in the second half, scoring 11 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter.
“He’s the leader and he’s supposed to do that,” said Farragut head coach William Nelson. “He was one of the main guys we got on in the locker room during half time and he responded well.”
“We came out and pressed the ball,” said Nelson. “It was enough to change the game, but we told the guys they have to defend better.”
The Admirals were out rebounded 31-24, but forced 24 turnovers.
Farragut closed out the third quarter on a 9-4 run with two key three-pointers by Jones to lead 37-21 heading into the final frame.
“I changed my shoes at half time because I didn’t have any grip and coach motivated us,” said Jones. “He said we have to play better if we want to go far in the state tournament.”
Senior Ethan Levy and Payton made a late 11-5 run to cut the deficit 42-32 with 3:59 remaining in the game but it was too little, too late for the Grizzlies. Farragut responded by closing the game on a 12-4 run.
Levy led the Payton (18-9) with 15 points.
Junior Joshua Adams added 19 points for Farragut (12-12).