White House Heritage coach Carl Miller was victorious in his return to Greenbrier, thanks in part to a career night from junior Timmy Freel.
Freel scored a game-high 16 points, also a career best, to lead the Patriots to a 60-42 victory over Greenbrier. It was Miller’s first game at his old school since leaving the Greenbrier girls basketball post in July.
“It was awkward, but it was fun,” Miller said. “I have the utmost respect for (Greenbrier) and the people in it. There are no hard feelings. It’s just respect all the way around.”
His Bobcat roots run deep, though. Miller played at Greenbrier from 1979-82 and served as a boys assistant from 1999-2005. He became the high school girls head coach in 2013.
Current Greenbrier boys coach Kenton Coleman also has close ties to Miller. Coleman played for the Bobcats from 2002-05 while Miller was on staff, and he later served as a girls assistant under Miller.
“It was fun,” Coleman said of the reunion. “When the ball is tipped, it’s just another coach on the sideline. You’re not thinking about who’s over there. But it’s certainly fun to talk to him before and after the game. I respect him quite a bit.”
Heritage jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the first quarter, and Greenbrier never recovered. Freel did most of his damage in the second quarter, when he scored 11 points and ended the first half with a three-point play after a steal and breakaway layup.
Freel rejoined the team when football season ended in November. He initially saw some junior varsity action to work on his “basketball IQ”, according to Miller.
“It just takes a little while to get into basketball mode,” Miller said. “Timmy is very athletic. He gave us great minutes tonight. We always knew he could play defense, but we’ve been working on his offensive side, and that showed.”
The Patriots led 36-22 at halftime after a 22-point second quarter. Greenbrier senior Noah Griffin cut the deficit to 10 by hitting a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter, but another breakaway bucket and three-pointer from Freel put the game out of reach in the fourth.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Coleman said. “Heritage plays really solid defense – they have a lot of length and a lot of long bodies to use. We made it tough on ourselves by digging the big hole early.”
Daniel Bale (15 points) and Ben Branlund (11) also finished in double figures for Heritage. Carter Preston led Greenbrier with 11 points.
Following its six-game win streak in December, Greenbrier (9-5, 2-1 District 9-AA) has lost three of its last four. The Bobcats have three chances this week – versus Harpeth on Monday, at White House on Tuesday and versus Sycamore on Friday – to get back on track.
“We’re playing a of tough teams in the district,” Coleman said. “Every night is going to be a battle. We’re going to win some and lose some, but we just have to keep improving every day and try to be at our peak when the district tournament rolls around.”
Heritage (8-8, 3-0) will look to stay undefeated in District 9-AA play. The Patriots travel to Harpeth on Tuesday and host Cheatham County on Friday.
“We have to keep practicing the same way and keep playing with the same intensity that we have been,” Freel said.
WH Heritage (60): Timmy Freel 16, Daniel Bale 15, Ben Branlund 11, Caleb Guisewite 9, Val Courtney 4, Taye Francis 2, Ty Lopez 2, Aaron Neely 1.
Greenbrier (42): Carter Preston 11, Devin Blakenship 7, Tristan Eakes 7, Noah Griffin 6, Hunter Thaxton 6, Brayden Rector 3, Izik Rector 2.