Indians bring winning tradition back to Powell Valley

Published 4:36 pm Monday, February 12, 2024

By Jay Compton

It’s been a sensational season for the varsity Powell Valley Indians boys’ basketball team. They’ve put together a 24-4 overall record while winning the County championship, finishing as District runners-up and winning their Sectional Tournament to advance to the Final Four of the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association’s Class A State Tournament.

Led by Coach Daniel Ellison and assistants Jerry Humfleet and Justin Peters, the team is boosting school spirit and bringing back the winning tradition Powell Valley hasn’t seen since the 1984 team won the East Tennessee State Championship and the 1987 Indians placed fourth.

The Indians capped off their run through the Sectional Tournament with a 43-39 win over Oneida after trailing 23-18 at halftime. Powell Valley was led by Braden Lane with 11 points while Jacob Tinnel also reached double-figures with 10, Colby Weaver added nine, Luke Lloyd six, Hunter Ellison four, and Korbin Goins three.

Powell Valley principal Shannon Graves said those Indians are a “great group of kids,” and their success on the court is having an impact all through the K-8 school.

“It is a different school this year. The kids have been excited. The boys are bringing back that winning tradition that Powell Valley had when I went to high school there. It’s just incredible to see the kids come together and the community come out and support them,” she said.

Graves said the boys’ hard work and success on the court have made them role models for the younger kids.

“Powell Valley is one school but we’re divided into the K-4 building and the 5-8 building,” she explained. “When the kids in the K-4 building start P.E. and they get out there playing you hear them say: ‘Look at me, I’m Jacob Tinnel!’ or ‘Look at me, I’m Luke Loyd!’ To me it’s just heart-warming to see them become such positive influences.”

The entire Speedwell community has gotten behind their team and came out last Friday to see the Indians off as they left for the State Tournament.

“We are blessed to live in Speedwell, we have an incredible community,” Graves said. “When the boys won on Saturday we just had to put out the word that they were going to State and by Monday morning we had pledges to pay all of their expenses and incredible donations from local businesses and individuals. It was unreal.”

By Friday morning, the Speedwell Fire Department had planned to escort the team to the county line. Then the school’s SRO got deputies from the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department to join in and the Harrogate Fire Department also joined the escort.

“They were escorted to the Claiborne County line by both fire departments and the county police. We had people lining the road, it was amazing,” Graves said. “When they got to the Campbell County line, Campbell County picked them up and escorted them all the way to the interstate. It was a total community effort. Our school board member Wade Breeding was there to send them off, our director of schools Meredith Arnold was there to send them off. We just made a big deal out of it.

“We circled the elementary school and we let the kids come out and wave bye to them with posters they had made. The middle school came out and was standing on the porch where the awning is and got them all pumped up as they got on the bus. It was just an incredible community experience.”

Speaking on Friday a short while after the send-off, Graves said she had a good feeling about how the team would fare at the State Tournament.

“I believe genuinely within my heart that they are going to bring this title home, but win or lose there are 190 other ball teams sitting at home this weekend and we’re down there as one of the last four standing,” she said. “I am so incredibly proud of these boys.”