Chris Brooks/For The Times Macon County High senior Trent Cook drives to the basket as Gallatin freshman Cade Martin trails the play. Cook scored six points in the Tigers’ 56-40 loss in Saturday evening’s Nera White Christmas Tournament championship game.

Chris Brooks/For The Times

Macon County High senior Trent Cook drives to the basket as Gallatin freshman Cade Martin trails the play. Cook scored six points in the Tigers’ 56-40 loss in Saturday evening’s Nera White Christmas Tournament championship game.

Reaching the championship game of a tournament in three consecutive seasons is a noteworthy accomplishment, but the Macon County High boys basketball team would much rather have wins in those three efforts.

The third time wasn't the charm for the Tigers as they suffered a 56-40 loss to Gallatin in the Nera White Christmas Tournament on Saturday evening

The Tigers have reached the final of the in each of the last three years, only to fall in the championship game each time.

Gallatin (10-6) never trailed in the contest, thanks to a 52-percent shooting effort from the field (22 of 42), one that steadily improved after the opening quarter. The Green Wave led 6-2 after the first eight minutes and extended that advantage to 25-13 by halftime.

When he was scouting Gallatin's game against Livingston Academy on Friday, Tiger head coach Jason Welch saw what kind of damage the Green Wave could do.

"(Guarding Gallatin junior Beljwok Adaing), it's tough," Welch said. "We don't have a guy that can go up that high and stop him. (Junior Noah Ring is) really solid inside. (Senior Larodre) Clark makes it go, (and sophomore Ty Martin and freshman Cade Martin) can shoot it -- both of them -- really well."

Adaing (15 points), Ring (14) and Clark (12) all hit double figures for the Green Wave, who forced the Tigers into 16 turnovers and turned those into 13 points. Macon County also struggled from the field, shooting 32 percent (15-46).

"It was just one of those deals tonight where we just couldn't hit the basket enough," Welch said. "We had some opportunities, but we knew (Gallatin) defended well. Coach (Bobby) Luna's one of the best around, and him and (assistant coaches Jojo Smith and Chris Goode) are excellent coaches. They get their team ready, and when I called something, they knew what we were running as well as we did. Sometimes, they had to put us in the right place, so we could run our offense."

The Tigers did, however, connect on nine 3-pointers, with senior Cameron Welch hitting six of those en route to a game-high 20 points. Five of his 3-pointers came in the second half, helping keep Macon County (6-11) in the contest until the final minutes.

"It's one of those things where there's some stretches where he doesn't have to shoot, and he looks to pass first," Jason Welch said. "I have to call his number sometimes to take that shot."

Junior forward Lake Reid led the Tigers with 11 rebounds. Macon County outrebounded Gallatin by a 28-24 margin and did not allow the Green Wave to get any second-chance points in the contest.

“What I saw was that you couldn’t give them second attempts,” Jason Welch said. “We really made a conscious effort (to limit their offensive rebounds), but when they’re shooting the ball that well, it’s tough.”

Senior Trent Cook added six points for the Tigers, while classmate Clay West chipped in four. Sophomores Ethan Jenkins and Connor Johnson each scored three points, while Reid and senior Kelton Ballou finished with two.

The Tigers will take a few days off for some needed rest after playing six games over a 10-day span. Jason Welch said that the plan was for an optional shooting session on Wednesday, then a full practice on Thursday prior to the Tigers’ final non-district game against Westmoreland on Friday.

Gallatin boys 56, Macon County 40

GALLATIN (56) – Beljwok Adaing 15, Noah Ring 14, Larodre Clark 12, Cade Martin 6, Ty Martin 5, Jaden Williams 4.

MACON COUNTY (40) – Cameron Welch 20, Trent Cook 6, Clay West 4, Ethan Jenkins 3, Connor Johnson 3, Kelton Ballou 2, Lake Reid 2.

Half: 25-13, Gallatin. Three-point goals: Gallatin 4 (Clark 2, Adaing 1, T. Martin 1), Macon County 9 (Welch 6, Cook 1, Jenkins 1, Johnson 1). Records: Gallatin 10-6, Macon County 6-11.