Lady Cyclones fend off G-P for trip to state 48-44
Published 11:52 pm Saturday, March 5, 2016
There were many who wondered if they were going to have to call Murfreesboro and cancel their room reservations for the state basketball tournament late in the fourth quarter of the Elizabethton and Gatlinburg-Pittman girls sectional basketball game Saturday night at John Treadway Gym.
The Lady Cyclones, however, showed the same grit and determination that they have displayed over the last four years in winning 124 games to stave off the Lady Highlanders down the stretch to earn their fourth consecutive trip to Murfreesboro with a 48-44 win.
“It’s a tribute to the kids–this team and the previous teams,” said Lady Cyclone head coach Len Dugger on his team’s advancing to the state tournament. “This team has worked really hard, and the greatest thing that I can say about this team is they are really unselfish.
“When you have some players like this and you put them together with one basketball, sometimes it can be a problem, but all season long this group has played and played to win,” added Dugger. “That’s the key to them. They just don’t give up. They could have folded their tents. There were two times tonight that they could have folded and got beat eight to ten points, but they kept battling and kept battling coming up with some defensive plays.
Elizabethton (33-0) battled out to a 21-16 lead after the first eight minutes thanks to timely shooting from Melenda Perry and Emily Kiser who tickled the cotton for seven points apiece to set the early pace.
“Home court advantage is the best,” said Perry about her early shooting performance. “I shoot really well on our home court, and I just wanted to show them and everybody down the road if we made it for them not to underestimate me.”
Macee Tinker worked her way for nine points in keeping the visitors from G-P (25-7) within reach of the state’s top-ranked Lady Cyclones.
The second period was a dogfight as both teams tightened up and got stingy defensively as ‘Betsy managed to build their lead to eight, 30-22, at the end of the first half.
Emily Schubert’s four points and a trey from Perry helped to extend the advantage for Elizabethton.
“We just had to remain calm,” said Schubert about the hard-fought contest. “This atmosphere was electrifying. We knew if we stayed within ourselves and played for each other we would pull it out.”
Many thought the Lady Cyclones would pull away from the Lady Highlanders in the first few minutes of the second half, but G-P put the ball in the hands of Qua Hines, and Hines started to take over the game as the smooth-shooting guard dropped in nine points to trim the Elizabethton lead to one, 37-36, going into the final eight minutes.
One could sense the momentum had shifted over to the G-P bench and when the Lady Highlanders took a 37-36 lead midway through the final quarter, sweat beads started popping on some of the fans in attendance.
However, once again the five ‘Betsy seniors along with Haley Burleson wasn’t ready to toss in the towel.
The game was tied at 39-39 with 3:56 left and once again 41-41 with 1:34 to play when the Lady Cyclones got a huge break as Hines was whistled for her fifth personal foul much to the delight of the Lady Cyclone faithful.
“I wonder how important it would have been if Stephen Curry had fouled out or Michael Jordan,” said Dugger about the impact of Hines fouling out. “It was huge, it was huge. I think when she went out it allowed us defensively to tighten up a little bit more.
“But, the last couple of times we sort of had her corralled and did a pretty good job before she fouled out,” added Dugger. “That’s the nature of the beast in the game is the foul situation and everybody fears that. I fear it for Kayla sometimes.”
After Elizabethton took a 45-41 lead with less than 23 seconds to play, Macee Tinker stroked a three-ball to pull the Lady Highlanders within one, 45-44.
A timeout was taken and on the inbound play, Emily Kiser threw a perfect down-court pass to Kayla Marosites who was fouled with 14.8 seconds left to play.
Marosites drained both free throws to push the Lady Cyclone advantage back to 47-44.
“We had been working just a little bit on a high screen there, and I had been letting all the other guys do it—Kayla, Kelci, Emily and when she (Kayla) came out there and wanted it, she really wanted it there,” stated Dugger.
“She made a heck of a move,” Dugger added. “She did a crossover and got her bumped up against Schubert’s screen and Schubert did a nice job with the screen. When she gets going to the rim, she’s pretty tough you know.”
Kelci Marosites, who had a frustrating night offensively, made one of the biggest plays of the contest when she made a steal on a G-P defender as the Lady Highlanders fouled Marosites to send her to the line with five seconds remaining.
Marosites hit 1-of-2 free throws to give the final margin of victory as a mid-court three from G-P fell short to send the Lady Cyclone fans to the floor swallowing up their victors.
“I was nervous, but I knew I could put one in at least,” said Kelci Marosites with a chuckle.
Kayla Marosites led all scorers for the contest with 24 points, scoring 17 of her team’s 18 points in the second half. Perry’s effort resulted in a 10-point night while Kiser added seven—all in the first eight minutes of the game.
Schubert chipped in with six and Kelci Marosites added a single point.
For the Lady Highlanders, Tinker finished with 17 points and Hines was on her heels with 16 points. Rylie Patterson registered eight in the loss.
“I am so happy for those kids,” said Dugger about the accomplishment of his team. “They are such a tremendous group of kids. You can’t say we are going to Murfreesboro without being tested right now.
“Tonight my hat is off to Gatlinburg-Pittman,” added Dugger. “They were well coached and she had a great game plan. Their kids played really well and they have a couple of really nice players too.”
Pairings for the Blue Cross Class AA State Championship will be held Sunday in Murfreesboro when the TSSAA holds the drawings for all three girls’ brackets
Class AA Girls Sectional Results from Saturday
Elizabethton 48, Gatlinburg-Pittman 44
Grainger 54, Fulton 52
McMinn Central 68, Livingston Academy 65
Upperman 55, Sequoyah 29
East Nashville 69, Creek Wood 38
CPA 47, Cheatham Co. 34
Westview 54, Covington 41
Haywood 66, South Gibson 52
GIRLS 2016 AA SECTIONAL
11Rylie Patterson 8,14Macee Tinker 17, 21Sophie Henry 1,23Qua Hines 16,35Gracie van Rij 2.
Kayla Marosites 24, Kelci Marosites 1, Emily Kiser 7, Emily Schubert 6, Melenda Perry 10.
Gatlinburg-Pittman…. 16 6 14 8 – 44
Elizabethton……….…. 21 9 7 11 – 48
3-PT Goals: Gatlinburg-Pittman 5 (Macee Tinker 3, Rylie Patterson, Qua Hines). Elizabethton 3 (Melenda Perry 2, Kayla Marosites).