CAK downs Gatlinburg-Pittman in region semifinals

Feb. 25, 2014 @ 10:01 PM

 The Gatlinburg-Pittman boys basketball team opened its Region 2-AA semifinal contest with seven straight points, setting a run-and-gun pace against Christian Academy of Knoxville.

The frenzied scoring continued – this time by both teams – but the Highlanders still had the momentum, leading by one after a quarter. That’s when a slower, second-period tempo precipitated by CAK’s zone defense began to negate G-P’s offensive production.

Things didn’t get any better for the Highlanders in the final two quarters of the contest, and the resulting 74-48 loss ended Gatlinburg-Pittman’s season. Meanwhile, the Warriors advance to the region final on Thursday at Alcoa High School.

“We knew that we had to play up-tempo and get up and down the floor and try to get into their legs a little bit,” said G-P coach A.J. Bennett. “They did a great job of slowing down the tempo. That kind of bothered us.

“CAK played extremely well. They were really good hitting shots and we were not. We’ve seen a lot of zone, but I think it was just the tempo that bothered us.”

Steffen Schroeder led the Highlanders in scoring with 14 points and Christian Maloney added 11 in the paint.

The main weapon for CAK was point guard Oteriah Lee, who scored 27 points in the win, including 17 in the first half to put the Warriors up, 37-26, at the break. Lucas Campbell finished with 18 points, and Cole Smith reached double figures with 12.

“More than anything, we were just making shots,” said CAK coach Shane Wells. “We also did a good job of holding the ball when we got the lead.”

That lead started as the second quarter opened and the Warriors quickly surged out to a 29-22 advantage. CAK held Gatlinburg-Pittman to only a single field goal and four total points in the period.

Trailing by 11 at the half, the Highlanders saw the deficit expand to 20 points with 2:33 left in the third quarter. To their credit, they cut the difference in half, 52-42, as the final period began and had a chance to get it down to single digits, but it was not to be.

A 10-2 run all but put the game away for CAK, while G-P continued to struggle offensively.

“We set our goals early to have a good season, and we just kept working and we did that,” Bennett said of his squad’s postseason success.