Physical game, capacity crowd --
With the outcome of Friday's District 9AAA opener at Lebanon hanging in the balance, Mt. Juliet's Will Pruitt took over and led the Bears to a thrilling 51-45 win in front of a raucous crowd at Campbell Brandon Gymnasium.
His team nursing a scant 43-41 lead with just under three minutes remaining in regulation, the Lipscomb signee pulled a defensive rebound then dribbled through traffic for a layup to give his team a 45-41 advantage.
Lebanon missed a pair of free throws at the 1:34 mark, then Pruitt pushed the ball up the floor and found Charles Clark for a layup that expanded Mt. Juliet's lead to six at 47-41 -- effectively putting the game on ice.
"Will's our point guard, our post scorer, our leading rebounder -- he does everything for us," said Mt. Juliet coach Troy Allen.
"He does it with a lot of class too. He's an exceptional kid -- I'll never coach another one like him"
Held in check for most of the game by a switching man-to-man Lebanon defensive effort, Pruitt worked for 20 points on a 6-of-11 night from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers and a 6-of-9 effort at the line.
Clark added nine points while Gage Wells scored six and Isaac Thompson had five points as the Bears improved to 7-0 on the season.
As a team, Mt. Juliet was 7-of-15 from beyond the arc and 12-of-21 at the line.
Post man David Greene led Lebanon with 13 points and Gaven Reasonover had 12, including two 3-pointers. Kobe Tibbs and Jeremiah Hastings had seven points apiece while Malcolm Logue battled four trouble and finished with four.
LHS (6-1 / 0-1 district) finished 10-of-16 at the line.
All told, there were 39 fouls whistled and there could have been that many more called in a game that, at times, resembled a bare-knuckled street fight.
Mt. Juliet returns to action Friday, Dec. 13 taking on District 9AAA rival Gallatin at Jerry Vradenberg Gym while Lebanon will host district foe Hendersonville the same night.
Friday's reported results --
Cannon Co. 67, Watertown 64 OT. Tigers have 4 in double figures; Malone 18, Verge 16, Clayborne 14 & Williams 11.
Ezell Harding 58, MJ Christian 43. Carter Branim with five 3-pointers in the loss.
Hendersonville 45, Wilson Central 35. Jordan Beard & Daniel Beard 8 points each.