Caldwell County’s Jabrion Spikes and Tripp Branch haven’t been on the court at the same time very often this season, but the Tigers were glad to have both of them for the 7th District tournament semifinals on Monday.
Spikes scored 26 points and Branch added 17 as Caldwell advanced to the championship game with a 62-40 victory over Hopkins County Central on the Tigers’ home court in Princeton.
Both Spikes and Branch have missed time with injuries this season, but Caldwell hopes it is peaking at the right time with both players back in the lineup.
Caldwell (8-14) will play top-seeded Madisonville-North Hopkins (13-4) for the district title Tuesday at 6:00 at the CAB gym.
The Maroons have won the last 11 district championships while the Tigers will be looking for their first district title since 2007.
Caldwell and Hopkins Central (4-9) battled back and forth for much of the first quarter before the Tigers edged ahead 14-9 after 8 minutes.
The Tigers then opened the second period with 10 straight points to go up 24-9.
However, the Storm countered with eight straight to get back in it at 24-17.
Hopkins Central had the ball late in the first half, down 28-20 with a chance to inch even closer at the break. But a Caldwell steal led to a layup just ahead of the buzzer by Collin
Whittington, sending the Tigers to halftime with a double-digit bulge at 30-20.
Caldwell then put together a strong third quarter, outscoring Hopkins Central 18-6 in the frame to take a 48-26 lead to the final stanza.
The Tigers led by as much as 25 points at 59-34 before both teams went to the bench to finish out the contest.
Marcus Eaves had 11 points to lead Hopkins Central, but he was the only Storm player to score in double figures.
The two teams did not play during the regular season — both scheduled matchups were COVID cancelations.
Hopkins Central still holds a 27-25 advantage in the all-time series.
Meanwhile, Caldwell and Madisonville have earned berths in next week’s 2nd Region tournament. The winner of Tuesday’s district final will host a regional first-round game on Monday.
Hopkins Central 9 11 6 14 — 40
Caldwell County 14 16 18 14 — 62
Hopkins County Central (4-9)—Marcus Eaves 11, Drake Skeen 8, Kolby Williams 7, Trevor Weldon 5, Javion Martin 4, Wesley Morris 3, Nyeem Peyton 2.
Caldwell County (8-14)—Jabrion Spikes 26, Tripp Branch 17, Tate VanHooser 9, Collin Whittington 5, Isaiah Joyner 2, Carter Whittington 2, Jack Englebright 1.