Sevier County's season ends in loss to Morristown East
The Sevier County Bearettes basketball squad suffered a 63-44 season-ending Valentine’s Day heartbreaker in an IMAC Conference tournament loss to Morristown East at Jefferson County High School night.
"You never want (a game like) that in a tournament elimination game, definitely, but it is what it is," said SCHS coach Stacey Marine. "(East) just forced us to shoot it from outside, and we just didn’t shoot it real well. We just needed to shoot it a little better."
It didn’t help the Bearettes’ cause when their primary weapon, junior post Brittany Tarr, was not close to her usual self due to illness and scored just eight points.
"Brittany was not 100 percent," said Marine. "She was sick all day. We had a shoot around (before the game), and she wasn’t involved in it because she was laying down on the side (of the court) just sick.
"She still came out and played the game, and she gave us what she had. (East) sucked (their defense in), and you could tell Brittany wasn’t feeling too good.
"If we could have knocked down some outside shots, we might have gotten (East) out of that (defensive strategy) but we didn’t hit the shots.
"I don’t know what our shooting percentage was, but it had to be bad. We were shooting airballs. It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t throw it into the ocean, it looked like."
A pair of 3-point shots by Sevier County juniors Brooklyn Fox and Rachel Cole, along with field goals from Tarr and junior Katlyn Davis, had the Bearettes (18-10) on top 10-8 by the end of the first quarter.
But that’s as good as it would get for SCHS, as the Lady Hurricanes (13-15) blew to a 27-20 lead by intermission on a pair of treys from Ellie-Kate Williams and Madison Bunch along with three field goals from Whitney Donaldson and Jordan Hayes.
Hayes took over at the start of the third quarter, leading East to a 12-0 run out of the gates for a 39-20 lead with left in the third.
Cole snapped the Sevier County drought with a 3-pointer to cut it to 39-23 with in the third, and Tarr blocked an East shot on the ensuing possession. SCHS senior Kasey Funderburg followed with a pair of free throws to cut it to 39-25 with in the third.
But the Bearette rally was short lived as East closed the period on a 6-2 spurt to make it 45-27 heading into the fourth.
"It looked like we were trying to make a little bit of a run there, but we’re just not deep enough to keep that kind of intensity up for two quarters, basically," said Marine. "(East) has two really good guards who handle the pressure well, and they did a great job getting it to those two guards."
But despite the lopsided season-ending loss, the Bearettes have reason for optimism in the future.
"We hope to build from this season," said Marine. "We’re still very young, and we’re only losing one senior.
"Overall, we had a good year. We’re hoping to build off this season and turn it into a great year next year. It’s all going to be up to the girls, if they continue to work hard at it."
And they’ll have to move forward without Funderburg, who will be the lone player lost to graduation.
"We appreciated (Funderburg) coming back out this year," said Marine. "She didn’t play last year, but she came back out (for her senior season). We really enjoyed having her on the team, and she contributed a lot.
"She made the decision to come back out, and I thought it was something good for her and for us. It shows that just because you’re off the team one year, it doesn’t mean you can’t work hard and get back on the team the next year.
"We’re going to miss her ... and I look forward to her being successful at whatever she decides to do (in the future)."
Tarr and Davis led SCHS with eight points apiece, Funderburg added seven, Cole and Fox had six each, sophomore Olivia Maples had five and sophomore Bri Miniard had four in the loss.
Hayes led East and all scorers with 21 points, Whitney Donaldson added 18, Lauren Blaylock had 16, Williams and Bunch had three apiece and Rebeca Anderson had a deuce in the win.
East advanced to the IMAC tourney semifinals against Jefferson County and earned a berth in the region tourney with the win over SCHS.