TA Dugger girls take Conference Championship

Published 2:19 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

For the first time since 2012, the TA Dugger Girls’ Basketball squad walked off the floor with championship hardware as they pushed past the John Sevier Indians on their own floor by a score of 45-31. Despite the margin, it did not come easily as the game remained up in the air until the last three minutes. The fourth quarter was decisive as the Lady Cyclones outscored the Indians 19-7 in the final frame.

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The contest started with the Indians jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead, but the Cyclones responded with a 7-0 run of their own. Daisy Parks assisted the run with a 3-pointer, but still, the Cyclones trailed by 1 point at the end of the first quarter. Laci Gobble hit a couple of free throws to give the Cyclones their first lead at 15-13 with 4:20 left in the half. The see-saw contest continued with both teams exchanging leads, but in the final 56 seconds, Daisy Sparks hit another 3-pointer and Aerryan Fleenor made an 8-foot floater with 11 seconds left to give the Junior Lady Cyclones a 21-17 lead going into the break.

Both teams came out of the locker room slowly; the pace of the game was often slowed by what bordered on over-officiating. Daisy Sparks got the Cyclones on the board first with a layup after Fleenor hit her with a long outlet pass to push the lead to 6. Indian Springs answered once again with a 3-pointer and a layup to make it a 23-22 advantage for the Cyclones. Gobble hit a wide-open 3-pointer to push the lead to 4 at 26-22. Indian Springs’ Autumn Biorick hit a long jump shot to cut the lead back to 2 points, and after a Cyclone turnover, the Indians looked to take the lead back but a 3-pointer rattled out to keep the Cyclones out front 26-24 going into the final quarter.

Looking to get some breathing room, Daisy Parks scored off a layup to push the lead back to 6, but the Indians responded with a bank shot from the right corner to cut the lead back down to 4. With a little under 5 minutes left, 7th grader Kiana Adams came in off the bench and provided a spark to push the Lady Cyclones to the finish line. She hit an acrobatic one-handed layup with an Indian Springs defender draped over her, then Fleenor hit a shot off a turnover as she was falling to her knees. After an Indian Springs missed shot, Sydney Minton hit a short floater followed by another Indian Springs turnover forced by Fleenor once again and an offensive rebound and putback by Adams plus the foul pushed the Cyclones to a 39-26 advantage, a 9-0 run in the course of 88 seconds. It would be a lead the Cyclones would not surrender, and the Region 1-3A Conference Championship trophy would be heading back to Elizabethton. Parks finished the game with 16 points, and Fleenor added 11.

After the game, TA Dugger Girls’ head basketball coach talked about what makes this group so special: “Since the 6th grade, they have taken their licks and they can give you a head full of gray hairs, but this group just won’t quit, never hang their heads. They play team ball and just are not selfish, they rose to the challenge tonight,” Coach Fox shared. Tournament MVP Aerryan Fleenor shared their team philosophy: “Our team just picked each other tonight through the crowd through the refs through all of it we stayed together, I didn’t care how many I scored tonight I just wanted to win!” Fleenor shared.

The TA Dugger Lady Cyclones will be hitting the road and traveling to Sevier County for the Regional Tournament on Monday.