Pigeon Forge, A-E battle in District 3-AA
Tuesday night’s matchup with District 3-AA rival Austin-East was a roller coaster of emotions for fans of the Orange and Black.
The first half was a thrilling climb, as the Lady Tigers pummeled former Lady Vol Gwen Jackson’s A-E girls squad 78-50, while the second half was a fall back to earth as the Pigeon Forge boys shot abysmally in a 75-37 loss to the Roadrunners’ boys squad.
In early action, coach Paul Reagan’s Lady Tigers (2-0) rode 10-0 and 13-0 first half runs to a 41-19 halftime lead against their old foe, which has fallen on some difficult times of late.
The Lady Tigers started the game by scoring 10 points to A-E’s none in the first 1:46 of play.
After A-E narrowed the gap to three by the early moments of the second quarter, the Lady Tigers regained their focus.
A scoring outburst from junior Mikayla Trobley, coupled with some timely buckets from Callie Clabo, Rebecca Baker and Mindy Brackins, helped the Lady Tigers outscore their opponents 25-6 in the first half’s closing moments, however.
“It was an ugly game,” coach Reagan said. “There were so many turnovers. We quit pressing, they cut it closer with their press, so we went back to pressing.
“I was not really pleased with our overall effort for the night, but you see glimpses out there that this team can be pretty good, but we’ve got to get a killer instinct, and we don’t have that right now.
“Hopefully we’ll get that before the season comes to an end.”
In the second half the one-sided basketball continued, until Reagan inserted his bench in the fourth quarter.
Even then, the Pigeon Forge subs played admirably — matching Austin-East’s first-teamers 20-20 over the final eight minutes.
In all, 10 Lady Tigers scored, led by Trombley’s 19 points.
Clabo and Brackins also reached double-digits with 11 each, followed by Baker with nine, Natalie Holbert with eight and Hannah Manis with six.
Also scoring for the Lady Tigers were Sarah Hill, Clarissa Crowley and Courtney Leatherwood with four each, and Alyssa Mitchell with two.
“There were so many turnovers, so many silly fouls, but it was great experience for our bench tonight in particular,” Reagan said.
The coach was also pleased with his girls’ concentration at the charity stripe, where they were 28-of-35 for an 80 percent clip. “That’s a great percentage,” he said. “Our bench went 12-for-12 in the fourth quarter, that’s pretty good. (And) when you’re not the biggest and not the most athletic, you better shoot the ball (well). I’ll take that.” The Lady Roadrunners’ Jalan Harper was the game’s high-scorer with 24 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter with the Lady Tigers’ starters on the bench.
In the nightcap, the Pigeon Forge boys (1-1) fell victim to an awful shooting night in their 75-37 loss to the Roadrunners.
After shooting well in their season-opening blowout win over Hancock County, the Tigers shot just nine percent from the floor in the first half against Austin-East, and finished the game 3-of-32 from 3-point range — which is vital to the undersized team competing in District 3-AA.
“We shoot nine percent from the floor and turn the ball over as many times as we did (and we’ll have a tough time winning),” PF coach Jonathan Shultz said. “It’s one of those things where we lost our confidence, our best players got in foul trouble in the first half, which messed up our rotations.
“And we’re missing guys so we’re lacking a little bit of depth. We’ve got to be a little more careful — that’s my fault. We’ve got to have a contingency plan of what to do when (players) get in foul trouble.”
Austin-East capitalized all night on their size and speed advantage over the Tigers, and Mathew Wagner dominated the glass for the Roadrunners, time and again scoring points on offensive rebounds.
Wagner scored 18 in the first half and finished the game with 24 points. “There’s a big difference between Austin-East and the team that we played first,” Shultz said. “Their athleticism showed. We didn’t box out. I wasn’t as disappointed in our inability to shoot the ball as I was in us not boxing out and not keeping composure.” Shultz did compliment his players on getting their heads back in the game in the second half. “We played hard the second half and didn’t quit, so I was proud of that,” he said.
Nate Marine led nine Tigers in the scoring column with nine points. Also adding their names to the scoresheet were Kaleb Black (five points), Jake Kingery (five), Anthony Shuler (four), Cade Dudley (four), Ben Vaughan (four), Ryan Beal (two), Kolby Black (two) and Peyton Marshall (two).