Jr. Lady Cyclones tame Church Hill in tourney

Published 12:39 am Tuesday, January 28, 2020




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KINGSPORT – The T.A. Dugger Jr. Lady Cyclones pretty much dominated the Church Hill Lady Panthers during the regular season so it might have been easy to overlook the Lady Panthers coming into tourney play.

With a pesky Lady Panther team that just wouldn’t go away, the Jr. Lady Cyclones were finally able to get the distance needed in the final period of play to escape with a 38-33 win.

The first half was tighter than a giant ball of rubber bands as Coach Matt Fox’s Lady Cyclones found themselves in a battle with a 10-10 ball game after 12 minutes of play.

Marlee Mathena had four points in the half to lead the Jr. Lady Cyclones. Mollie Johnson, Michelle Shields, and Abbie Crigger each collected two points to keep TAD even.

Veda Barton and Katelynn Trent scored four points apiece to help frustrate the Jr. Lady Cyclones effort.

It was a dogfight in the third period as the Jr. Lady Cyclones had their coach sweating bullets as TAD snuck out to the slimmest lead at 23-22 with six minutes left for one of the teams on the season.

Behind the strong play of Mathena in the paint scoring six points and a huge trey from Shields to go along with two free throws, the Jr. Lady Cyclones managed to evade the upset bid and advance to today’s semifinal action.

Mathena led the charge for the Jr. Lady Cyclones with a 16-point outing. Shields reached double digits with 10 for the game.

Crigger chipped in with six points in the contest while Johnson and Kaiya Simmons added four and two points respectively.

Church Hill received yeoman’s work from Barton who finished with 13 points. Trent finished the game with 11 points for the Lady Panthers.

Naomi Strickland had a big second half to keep Church Hill in contention for the upset with nine points.

“This time of the year, it doesn’t matter what your record is or what you have done the last game because anything can happen,” Fox said with a sigh of relief after the game.

“We got to do a better job of rebounding. Church Hill came at us and threw up some shots that went in easier than ours did.

“As a team, we have to stay positive and defensively we have to box out. We also need to put it in the hoop on the offensive end.”

The Jr. Lady Cyclones play Greeneville at 6:15 pm tonight at John Sevier Middle in Kingsport.