Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County High junior forward Noah Hale elevates for a shot in front Franklin Classical’s Samuel Hubbard.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County High junior forward Noah Hale elevates for a shot in front Franklin Classical’s Samuel Hubbard.

The Macon County High School boys basketball held visiting Franklin Classical to a season-low point total in its Nera White Christmas Tournament opener, a 70-35 victory last Thursday evening at Nera White Gymnasium.

"We've been working a lot in practice," Tiger sophomore guard Braydee Brooks said of the defensive effort. "It seems like the majority of practice.

"This team wasn't fundamentally as good as a lot of teams we play, but I do think our defense has gotten a little bit better."

The Knights shot 30 percent from field, committed 15 turnovers and were outrebounded by a 43-27 margin.

"I was pleased with everything tonight," Macon County head coach Adam Bandy said. "Everything was the way we expect with their attitude and their effort. Even when we got going pretty good, it was unselfish. We were making the right play and the right pass regardless. That's a step in the right direction for our entire team."

Brooks and Lake Reid made perimeter jump shots early on against Franklin Classical's 2-3 zone defense. That helped the Tigers out to a 13-2 lead.

"We were mainly trying to find the open spot in the middle and penetrate to the middle and pitch it down low, whatever comes free," Brooks said.

The Knights turned the basketball over on six of seven possessions over the first three minutes of the second stanza. Brooks, junior Noah Hale and sophomore Cody Cothron provided baskets during that stretch as the lead swelled to 19-3.

Franklin Classical pulled back to within 13 points on Tim Harris' layin with 2:47 remaining in the half, but Hale scored four points as Macon County scored the final six points of the half, creating a 19-point advantage (29-10) at halftime.

The lead continued to swell in the third quarter as Brooks erupted for 13 points in the period.

Tiger junior guard Isaac Meador -- who missed the team's previous two contests due to a concussion -- converted on a transition lay-in in the final seconds of third quarter. That gave Macon County its biggest lead (56-19).

"A big thing with us is that we are so emotional," Bandy said. "It's an emotional high and an emotional low. That snowball starts rolling, and instead of adding to it, we have to bust it up.

"For us tonight, I said, 'Let's start a snowball of our own.' In the Cumberland County game, it was almost like they had gone to Christmas break."

The Tigers won for the second time in three games, including a 62-55 victory at Rhea County in White County High's Sonic Shootout.

"They're big confidence-boosters," Brooks said of the wins. "Everybody knows they're not as (high-quality) as some of the teams we play, but it's (good) putting the ball in the basket and seeing it go in. That helps us."

However, in between those wins was the 83-43 loss to Cumberland County in the team's final game of the Sonic Shootout.

"Last week, it was a couple of days before Christmas," Brooks said. "I just don't think our minds were focused."

Macon County scored a season-high 70 points against Franklin Classical. The Tigers shot 40 percent from the field.

Brooks led four Macon County players in double figures, producing a double-double of 24 points and 15 rebounds to go along with six assists and three steals. He made 8 of 13 field-goal attempts.

Hale provided 13 points and six rebounds, and Reid also had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, in addition to four steals.

Cothron also scored a career-high 10 points.

"Everybody is getting a little more consistent and knowing what they do well," Bandy said. "I tell them, 'Play to your strengths, and when they stop it, we'll find something else to do.' You just have to go to your strengths and trust in it. The guys are better understanding what their roles and are playing more consistently."

Reid is the team's lone returning starter, though Brooks is the only other player who entered this season with considerable experience.

"I think it's hard for me and Lake," Brooks said. "We sometimes try to do too much on our own. The best thing we try to do is trust our teammates and trust what we can do. As the season has come along, even the inexperienced guys, everyone has gotten tremendously better from the start of the season."

• The Tigers fell behind early on and suffered a 70-52 loss to Pickett County in Friday evening's semifinal round.

Macon County trailed 23-13 after one period of play, but Brooks scored 14 of his 15 points in the first half, helping the Tigers cut the lead to seven points (30-23) by halftime.

The Bobcats took a 49-37 lead into the fourth quarter.

Hale scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He made 10 of 13 free-throw attempts.

Meador and Reid scored seven and six points, respectively, and Cothron, Colter and Shrum provided two points each.

The Tigers committed 17 turnovers, shot 36 percent from the field and made just 1 of 15 3-pointers.

Pickett County shot 45 percent from the field.

Zach Amonett and Luke Smith led the Bobcats offensively with 21 and 19 points, respectively.

The two teams combined to shoot 59 free throws.

• Macon County concluded play with a 59-38 loss to Trousdale County in Saturday evening's consolation game.

The Tigers started slow, trailing 9-6 after one period of play and 26-12 at halftime as Alex Ford scored nine second-quarter points for the Yellow Jackets.

Brooks scored eight of his squad's 12 points in the first half.

Then, Cameron Rankins scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter as Trousdale County took a 40-26 lead into the final period.

Ford backed Rankins' production with 16 points, and teammate Trent Pharris provided 12 points.

Brooks scored a team-high 16 points, followed by Hale (7 points), Reid (5), Shrum (5) and Meador (5).

Hale also grabbed a team-best eight rebounds.

Macon County (4-11) shot just 31 percent from the field, made 3 of 21 3-pointers, committed 16 turnovers and was outrebounded by a 43-24 margin.

Macon County boys 70, Franklin Classical 35

FRANKLIN CLASSICAL (35) – Johnny Mac Byrd 9, Tim Harris 8, Nic Geroci 7, Jackson Arnold 6, Samuel Hubbard 2, Jed Mangrum 2, Hayes Smith 1.

MACON COUNTY (70) – Braydee Brooks 24, Noah Hale 13, Cody Cothron 10, Lake Reid 10, Isaac Meador 6, Dawson Shrum 4, Landon Colter 3.

Half: 29-10, Macon County. Three-point goals: Franklin Classical 6 (Byrd 3, Arnold 2, Geroci 1), Macon County 4 (Brooks 2, Cothron 2). Records: Franklin Classical 11-5, Macon County 4-9.