Gatlinburg-Pittman girls cruise to district title game after slow start against Union County
Coach Katie Parton and her Gatlinburg-Pittman girls basketball team had to sit through a couple of upsets on Monday at Union County High School.
So when it came the No. 1 Highlanders turn in the District 3-AA semifinals, G-P wasn’t about to be another victim against No. 4 Union County.
“Like I told the girls, you can’t take anything for granted,” Parton said. “That’s why it’s tournament time. It’s easily upset. A three upsets a two. Another three upsets a two. I just kept telling them ‘We can’t overlook them. We can’t overlook them even though we beat them twice.’ ”
The Highlanders may have started slow but they turned in the solid performance typical of the top seed by pulling away for a 54-36 victory. The win moves G-P into the Tuesday night district championship game against No. 3 Fulton, upset winners over second seed Pigeon Forge.
“It just took us a while to get back into it,” said the Highlanders’ Dannie Luczak. “We got our rhythm going and everything was good.”
Luczak had 12 points while the district’s player of the year, Haris Price, had a game-high 17. It took about the length of the first quarter for the Highlanders (25-3) to get rolling, though. Down 11-8 to the Patriots (15-14), Bethany Sutton pulled G-P within one before Rylie Patterson got back-to-back layups on the break.
That was the start of a 15-3 run that gave the Highlanders control. Pressure defense and long outlet passes that had G-P’s girls basketball team looking more like a 7-on-7 football squad kept the lead a comfortable one over the next three quarters.
“We actually practice our outlet passes a lot,” Parton said. “I’m sure they get sick of doing transition layups. We do them every day. I try to tell them, ‘It’s going to pay off. It’s going to pay off.’ I don’t think they see it as much as the crowd sees how important those passes are and how good they look.”
All those layups added up to a tournament win for the Highlanders. One more victory secures the first of what G-P hopes will be a couple championships this month.
“It’s so awesome,” Patterson said. “I just want to go farther than last year.”
Fulton 57, Pigeon Forge 42
MAYNARDVILLE — The Tigers took it on the chin against the Falcons for the second straight game.
Pigeon Forge coach Paul Reagan said Monday’s loss was eerily similar to a 66-43 loss on the final night of the regular season.
“Fulton wanted it more than we did and played harder than we did,” Reagan said. “I don’t know why we’re not being aggressive on offense. It’s like we’re being really passive and we’re playing not to lose or something. I don’t understand it.”
The No. 2 Tigers (16-8) fell behind 9-0 on Monday, failing to score for the game’s first six minutes, 10 seconds. While Callie Clabo’s 3 pulled Pigeon Forge within five after a quarter, the Tigers never could put together the run they needed the rest of the game.
“I think both games we got off to a slow start, which motivated them more than us,” said Tigers senior Mikayla Trombley. “It just took us a while to get going and they kept getting easy layups.”
Trombley finished with 11 while Sarah Hill added 10 points. No other Pigeon Forge player had more than six while the No. 3 Falcons (23-5) had four players in double figures.
The Tigers will next face Union County on Tuesday in the district consolation game.