GALLATIN - Station Camp is moving on.
The Bison will head to Springfield for Tuesday night’s Region 5-AAA semifinal game against District 10-AAA’s number one seed, Clarksville Northeast. Winner will advance to Thursday night's Region 5-AAA Championship game against Mt. Juliet/Clarksville High School.
First, the Bison needed to take down Henry County in the region quarterfinals.
Facing off against District 10-AAA’s third-seeded team, the Bison tallied 40 paint points, eight steals, and a spectacular performance from the free throw line to move on, 73-59.
Station Camp finished the win 20-for-22 from the charity stripe, helping them close the game out on a 13-6 run.
“I thought our inside play was excellent tonight,” Station Camp head coach Seth Massey said. “Two things that stood out to me were the guys doing a great job of what they do, including Cameron (Gerlach) and Kheller (Die’), but also Jack Gold. He came in and gave us physical play on the low block. He has emerged lately as that guy to come in when we need him and help us. They were hurting us on the glass, and he came in and gave us physicality down there when we needed it.”
The trio combined for 33 of the team’s 73 points.
“Kheller and Cameron affect the game for us in so many ways. They were both outstanding,” Massey added. “Jack has been hurt a lot throughout his career, but now we are to the point where injuries are out the window. They all three played a huge role for us tonight.”
The Bison looked as if they would run away with the win after the first quarter, leading 20-9, but the Patriots stormed back strong, cutting their halftime deficit to 32-27.
“They can score in a hurry and are just a good basketball team,” Massey said. “I thought we did a good job of playing our tempo in the second half.”
The game stayed tight for the third quarter as both teams scored 13 points in the frame.
Leading 56-49 with 3:11 left, Kavon Blankenship stepped in and took a charge call on John Odoms, fouling out the point guard with just six points scored - 14 less than his per-game average.
“Kavon’s charge call was huge,” Massey said. “For him and Eli Thurston to hold him to six points was big. He is an outstanding player. That was a great job by them.”
With two minutes remaining leading 61-53, senior Eli Thurston stepped to the foul line looking to join the elite 1,000 points club.
Sinking both free throws, Thurston finished the game with 14 points and precisely 1,000 points scored over his career.
“I didn’t let it affect my game,” he said. “I just wanted to go out and play. I will say that I was nervous about that second free throw. The region championship last year, and this is two of my finest memories so far in my high school career. It’s a sigh of relief, but getting the win tonight was more important.”
Coach Massey also congratulated Thurston but says his legacy is so much bigger than 1,000 points scored.
“Congratulations to him first off,” Massey added. “That said, his legacy will not be 1,000 points scored. He has been so much more than that. He is tough, plays the game the right way, and competes his tail off. What he brings to the table is not measurable in points scored. The value he brings to this program is special.”
Closing out the win means Station Camp will play in another win or go home scenario Tuesday night at Springfield against Clarksville Northeast.
The Eagles finished the season as District 10-AAA regular season and tournament champions, and are a favorite to go to the state tournament.
Despite the tough test, Massey agrees that his team is pretty good too.
“I think so,” Massey added on his team’s preparation for this moment. “I think teams in our league are good and prepare you for these types of games. We have confidence we can play with those guys.”
Tip-off at Springfield is 7:30.
Station Camp (73): Kavon Blankenship 22, Cameron Gerlach 16, Eli Thurston 14, Kheller Die’ 12, Jack Gold 5, Trey Moore 2, Donavon Smith 2.
Henry County (59): Jason Odoms 15, Deon Yong 13, Will Singelton 11, Ashton O’Daniel 8, Semaj King 6, John Odoms 6,