Former Bobcat Pilots Team to State Tournament Appearance
When former Giles County boys’ basketball standout Shay Shannon accepted a head coaching position at Harriman High School in June of 2015, he knew he might have the chance to piece together a potential state tournament-caliber ball club.
He just didn’t anticipate it would happen this quickly.
In just his second season at the helm, Shannon and the Blue Devils are state tournament bound after they defeated Cosby High School, 86-47, in their Class A Sectional matchup
The win lifted the Blue Devils to their first state tournament appearance since 2010. The Blue Devils are seeking their first state championship since 1995 — a squad that was led by University of Tennessee football standout Jermaine Copeland.
After the squad posted a 19-13 record and a three-point defeat in the Region 2-A semifinal last season, Harriman boasts a 30-6 record and a regional title this go-around.
Three of the six losses on the season have come to District 3-A rival Grace-Christian Knoxville, a team that is also state tournament bound.
The first meeting, a 93-84 overtime defeat on Jan. 24 in Knoxville, snapped a 20-game win streak for the Blue Devils.
After three heartbreaking defeats in the regular season and district tournament, the Blue Devils finally vanquished their district rivals with a 76-63 win in the Region 2-A championship.
Harriman is led by a talented foursome of seniors — three guards and one forward.
Isaiah McClain leads the Blue Devils in scoring at 22.3 points per game. McClain is an all-around performer for Harriman with 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals per contest.
Joe Pace (15.3 ppg), John Johnson (11.3 ppg) and Hayden Bingham (10.9 ppg) also help lead the Blue Devils.
McClain, Pace and Johnson already hold college offers and Bingham is beginning to receive interest.
All four were all-district performers and Pace and Johnson were named all-region. McClain was named Region MVP.
The state tournament appearance is the first for Shannon as a head coach, but not his first ever.
As a junior forward at Giles County, Shannon’s sharp shooting helped the Bobcats claim their first ever state title on the famous 2003 team that also featured Tyler Smith, Tristen Fletcher and Eric Howard.
Shannon says that several members of the Giles County community have reached out in the days since the Blue Devils advanced to the state tournament.
“Pulaski is such a loving and supportive community,” Shannon said. “The friends and family there are truly the best. It has been fun to hear from everyone back home as we have made this run in the postseason. A few have even said they are making the trip to Murfreesboro to cheer us on. That means a lot.”
And while the season has already been successful, the ultimate goal of a state championship is now within striking distance.
But standing in the way of the Blue Devils is three-time defending state champion Memphis Mitchell High School. The Tigers boast a 27-7 record this season and own a nine-game win streak.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro today (Thursday).
—Story Courtesy of Wade Neely
—Photo Courtesy of Roane County News