Game-winning shot highlights rivalry battle at Pigeon Forge

Tigers win offensive shootout; G-P girls snap 9-game slide vs. PF
Dec. 08, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

Arch rivals Gatlinburg-Pittman and Pigeon Forge met at Lynn Maples Gymnasium on Friday night and split a pair of varsity contests.

The Lady Highlanders took a 54-45 win over the homestanding Lady Tigers, while the Pigeon Forge boys shocked the visiting Highlanders in a 93-91 nailbiter.
It was thriller fought down to the final buzzer, but the undersized Tigers (3-3 overall, 1-2 in District 3-AA) — led by a former middle-school castoff — came up on the winning side of a 93-91 instant classic over the Highlanders (7-3, 1-1).
Pigeon Forge junior Anthony Shular, who once was cut from the Orange-and-Black basketball program in middle school, led all scorers with 29 points in the win.
“Anthony got cut in middle school, (but) he never gave up and he never stopped working at it,” said Pigeon Forge coach Jonathan Shultz, following his squads’ third-straight win over their arch county and district rival. “And it all paid off for him tonight.”
Shular may have been the hero, but he had plenty of sidekicks.
Tigers’ senior Ben Vaughn scored eight points, and none were bigger than the final two, which came on a 15-footer that hit nothing but net with 2.8 seconds in regulation to secure the victory.
The Pigeon Forge fans let out a deafening scream that filled the near capacity gym as the ball sank through the twine.
“That shot was something special,” said Shultz. “I think somebody said something to him. He was pretty fired up and I was glad to see him hit it.”
Pigeon Forge shot out of the gates with noticeable tenacity and confidence, building as much as an 11-point lead in the first quarter.
“We switched the starting lineup tonight,” said Shultz. “We put our three veteran players (on the floor), guys who have been there before and done it before, and we came out confident and played well.”
The Tigers led 25-17 heading into the second frame and led by as many as 10 points in the period, but G-P junior Clay Leatherwood took over the final 1:42 before half, scoring seven points to cut it to 45-43 at the break.
G-P sophomore Raj Bhula started the third period on fire, scoring nine quick points to give the Highlanders their first lead of the contest, 52-51, with a 3-pointer from the corner with 5:21.
G-P built its lead to as many as six points, 65-59, when senior Blade Durbin hit a layup with 2:00 in the third, and the Tigers found themselves in a 68-65 hole to start the fourth.
Pigeon Forge junior Nathan Marine — who finished with 16 points — tied it at 70s with a 3-point bomb with 6:55 in regulation. Back-to-back treys by juniors Peyton Marshall and Skylar Gibbons gave the Tigers a 76-72 edge with 5:04.
G-P junior Thomas Mackey knotted it at 80s with a coast-to-coast layup with 3:04, but Marine answered with a 10-foot bank to make it 82-80 Tigers with 2:33.
G-P junior Steffan Schroeder answered immediately with a drive to tie it at 82s with 2:24, but Shular answered with a trey and a 15-foot baseline jumper to make it 87-82 Pigeon Forge with 1:53.
G-P senior Davis Soehn tied it at 87s with a 12-foot and-1 play with 1:31, but Shular came back with a drive to the hoop to make it 89-87 Tigers with 1:02.
Leatherwood tied it at 89s with a pair of charity shots with 55.2 seconds, but Gibbons drove baseline with a double-pump for two to make it 91-89 Tigers with 27 seconds.
Schroeder tied it again at 91s with a pair of foul shots with 15.9 seconds, but Vaughn would have the last laugh for Pigeon Forge.
“I think it may be starting to click a little bit, but it looks a whole lot better when you’re hitting shots,” said Shultz. “If you knock down a basket, it makes you look a whole lot better, and it makes you look a whole lot smarter as a coach.”
Pigeon Forge junior Jake Kingery was the other Tiger in double-digits with 15 points, Gibbons had seven, sophomore Ryan Beal had six, sophomore Kolby Black had five, senior Kaleb Black had four, and Marshall had three in the win.
Leatherwood led G-P with 28 points, and Durbin finished with 15. Schroeder, Soehn and Bhula all had 11 points, Mackey had 10, and sophomore Cole Fuller added five in the loss.
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In girls’ action, Lady Highlanders (7-1 overall, 2-0 in District 3-AA) snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Lady Tigers (4-2, 1-1) with a 54-45 win, powered by some strong play from a trio of underclassmen.
Sophomores Dannie Luczak and Haris Price led the Lady Highlanders with 17 and 14 points, respectively, to go along with senior Karsen Sims’ 11.
But perhaps the biggest hero of the night was freshman Julia Maloney, who stepped up big for injured junior Hunter Price and scored 10 points in the first Blue-and-Gold victory over Pigeon Forge since the 2008 district tournament semi-finals.
“It feels really good,” said G-P girls’ coach Katie Parton. “The girls have worked so hard to accomplish this. Overall, this was a great team win by all of the girls.
After Sims drained a field goal with 2:16 in the second quarter, the Lady Highlanders were in front by a commanding 15 points, 30-15 en route to a 30-19 lead at intermission.
But the Lady Tigers weren’t about to let their arch county and district rivals walk away with the victory without a fight.
Pigeon Forge started the third quarter with a 16-4 run to make it a game again, taking a brief 35-34 lead when junior Callie Clabo drove to the basket with 1:29 on the clock.
But G-P’s Price finished the period strong with a basket and a charity shot to give the Lady Highlanders a 38-35 lead heading into the fourth, and the Blue and Gold never trailed again.
G-P sophomore Macee Tinker was the other Lady Highlander in the scoring column with a deuce.
Senior Mindy Brackins and junior Mikayla Trombley led the Lady Tigers with 14 points each, Clabo had eight, sophomore Rebecca Baker finished with five, and juniors Courtney Leatherwood and Clarissa Crowley had a deuce apiece in the loss.