Around the region: Basketball teams get back to work
How do you get over a loss as painful as Gatlinburg-Pittman’s overtime defeat in Tuesday’s District 3-AA championship?
By getting back on the court.
“I told the girls, ‘We want you to hurt but we just want you to hurt for tonight,’ ” said Highlanders coach Katie Parton after the 62-59 OT loss to Fulton. “Tomorrow we’ve got to get ready to play Catholic on Friday. You lose Friday, you go home. We can’t let this carry over to Friday.”
The focus must shift now to that Region 2-AA quarterfinal (7 p.m. Friday at G-P) for a team that won 25 games this year and was ranked in the Associated Press’s statewide class AA Top 10 all season long. Catholic, which beat Scott County, 57-47, in the District 4-AA consolation game on Monday, has an underwhelming record at 13-15 but the Irish played a tough schedule including AAA teams Maryville (twice), Heritage, and Bearden (twice). Two of their losses came to Webb School, the state’s No. 2 team in Division II in the final AP poll.
The bigger problem, though, may be who the Highlanders would match up against in a possible region semifinal elimination game. G-P is on the same side of the bracket as Christian Academy of Knoxville, a team that won 18 games and was undefeated in District 4-AA.
Oh, and by the way, the Warriors are supposed to get back 6-foot-6 Cheyenne Hooper on Friday. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1fgMpMZ), Hooper sat out the first 30 games of the year to focus on volleyball. But now she’s returning in time for the region tournament.
But who said the road to state was supposed to be easy? Parton said she’s just focused on her team.
“After a game like (Tuesday), you’re more worried about your team than the other team,” she said. “… I think this will help us grow as a team. I think we’re going to be hungry for it. And I think we’re going to play with a lot of emotion on Friday.”
The region tournament is where things get serious after two district rounds played for seeding. Teams need to win twice to keep their season going.
While this round can generate unfamiliar opponents, Sevier County’s boys have a familiar foe in David Crockett. The Smoky Bears beat the Pioneers, 77-73, during the Maryville Christmas tournament. Coach Ken Wright missed that game due to a family matter, but Sevier County placed four players in double figures one day after a disappointing loss to Austin-East. Saturday’s game is 7 p.m. at Sevier County High School.
The Seymour girls have a bit tougher task, traveling to undefeated Science Hill on Friday in the team’s first meeting since a 20-point Hilltoppers win in the 2012 region tournament. Pigeon Forge’s girls are also on the road Friday night at 15-15 Alcoa.
Playing for a title
The only team yet to learn its region road is Gatlinburg-Pittman’s boys team. The Highlanders play tonight (vs. Carter at Union County, 7:30 p.m.) in the District 3-AA championship. They’ll host either Scott or Catholic on Saturday at 7 in the Region 2-AA quarterfinals.
Walking into the Highlanders’ girls game on Tuesday, senior Clay Leatherwood said his stomach was “already in knots” thinking about the game. G-P last reached a district title game in 2009 and hasn’t won one since a 55-54 victory over Grainger in 2002.