Forge scores impressive wins at Cosby
The Pigeon Forge basketball teams had a good road trip on Saturday night, taking a pair of four-point wins at tough Class A Cosby.
In the opener, the Lady Tigers took the No. 2 state-ranked Lady Eagles down 61-57, and the Pigeon Forge boys followed with a fourth-quarter rally and a 64-60 triumph in the nightcap.
Losers of four of their previous six contests, the Lady Tigers (12-6) snapped a 15-game Lady Eagles’ winning streak, overcoming a 10-0 Cosby (18-3) run to start the affair.
Pigeon Forge junior Courtney Leatherwood had the hot hand in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers to help the Lady Tigers come back from the early deficit for a 34-33 lead by intermission.
Junior Callie Clabo — who led Pigeon Forge and all scorers with 21 points — added 11 first-half points on a pair of treys along with five made free throws in the comeback rally.
Cosby senior Lexi Lowery put the Lady Eagles back on top with a drive to the hoop to start the third, making it 35-34 with 7:22 left in the period.
The Lady Eagles built their lead to as many as five points, 42-37, when sophomore Bethany Williams hit a fastbreak layup with 4:44 to go.
But Clabo hit two 3-pointers, had a rebound with a putback and connected on a pair of charity shots to close the quarter, giving the Lady Tigers a 47-44 lead heading into the fourth.
Pigeon Forge never trailed again, as junior Mikayla Trombley started the final period with six quick points for a 53-47 Lady Tiger lead — their biggest of the night — with 5:06 to go.
And senior Mindy Brackins hit five free throws down the stretch to help hold off the Lady Eagles.
“We were a little lackadaisical to start, but when we woke up, it looked like a sleeping giant had woken up,” said Pigeon Forge girls’ coach Paul Reagan. “Courtney shot lights-out, Callie shot lights-out.
“Really, everyone of my girls played well tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of my girls.”
Reagan hopes the win over Cosby is a sign that his Lady Tigers are starting to peak at the right time with the district tournament just around the corner.
“I’ve always said that basketball is a tournament sport,” said Reagan. “Cosby is a heck of a team. They’re the No. 2 team, and they’re legit.
“We’ve played and lost a lot of close games, and our girls deserved to pull one of these out.”
Trombley finished with 14 points, Leatherwood had 12, junior Clarissa Crowley and Brackins had five apiece and senior Katie Shields had four in the win.
Williams led Cosby with 20 points, Lowery had 12, senior Tiffany Smelcer and junior Dessie Shaffer had nine each, senior Lexiey Williams had four and sophomore Sarah Conard had three in the loss.
The Pigeon Forge boys (6-15) snapped a six-game skid with the four-point win over Cosby (13-8), overcoming a double-digit deficit for a dramatic fourth-quarter finish.
When Cosby’s Bryson Valentine sniped a trey with 6:16 left in regulation, the Eagles looked like a sure bet with a 56-46 advantage.
But the Tigers responded with a 14-2 run to take just their second lead of the contest, 60-58, when junior Trevor Jain drilled a 10-foot baseline jumper with 2:28 remaining in regulation.
Jain had bookend scores in the run, starting with a trey from the corner to cut the Cosby lead to 56-49 with 5:25 left in the game.
Senior Ben Vaughan followed with a three-point play of the and-1 variety, and junior Anthony Shular sniped 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to knot it at 58-58 with 3:07 on the clock.
Cosby big man Tate Parton tied the game at 60 with a power move to the hole with 1:35 left, but Vaughan came through with a 15-footer with 48 seconds left to give the Tigers a 62-60 edge.
Jain went to the line for a 1-and-1 and a chance to ice it with 16.1 seconds on the clock, but he missed the front end.
No matter, because Jain snagged his own rebound and banked in a 15-footer with 13 seconds to make it the eventual final.
“I was beginning to get worried when we were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the guys decided that they were going to play as hard as they could possibly play,” said Pigeon Forge boys’ coach Jonathan Shultz. “They showed that we’re capably of some good things.
“Hopefully this will snap our (losing) streak. When you’re losing games, it’s hard to have confidence until you win one. Winning is how you build confidence, and hopefully this will be the start of a little momentum going into the (district) tournament.”
The Tigers trailed at the end of every quarter except the one that counts, including 18-15 at the end of one, 36-31 at the break and 53-46 heading into the fourth.
Before the late fourth-quarter lead, the Tigers led just once, 37-36, when Shular hit a 15-footer with 6:02 left in the third.
Cosby answered with a 12-0 run for a 48-37 Eagle lead when Parton grabbed a rebound and put it back in with 3:16 to go in the third.
Jain led Pigeon Forge with 18 points, Vaughan had 17, Shular had 12, senior Kaleb Black had nine, junior Jake Kingery had six and junior Peyton Marshall had a deuce in the win.
Valentine led Cosby and all scorers with 20 points, Parton had 15, Jordan Self had 14, Keenan Phillips had seven, and Zach Daruna and Timmy Smelcer had a deuce apiece in the loss.
The Pigeon Forge teams next host Grainger on Tuesday, while the Cosby squads will look to rebound with a trip to Claiborne on Thursday.