Lady Highlanders rally to beat Alcoa
The Gatlinburg-Pittman Lady Highlanders did it again.
For the second time this season, the Lady Blue and Gold (15-4) overcame a double-digit deficit against a quality opponent in the new Highlander gym — this time a 57-56 triumph over Alcoa (9-6) on Saturday night.
After trailing by as many as 15 points in the game, including a nine-point 54-45 hole with 1:10 in regulation, the G-P girls closed with a 12-2 run to pull out the emotional win.
“Oh my gosh, they’re trying to kill me, I think,” said coach Katie Parton, referring also to the 17-point fourth-quarter comeback against Fulton on Dec. 14. “Holy moly.”
After sophomore Dannie Luczak tied the game at 56-56 on a pair of charity shots with 10.2 seconds, Alcoa looked to strike for the win with a deep inbound pass the length of the court.
But the pass sailed out of bounds, giving the Lady Highlanders possession under their own goal with that same 10.2 seconds left.
The game seemed destined for overtime as two G-P shots dribbled off the rim, but freshman Julia Maloney — who came up big with eight points on the night — fired off a final shot as the buzzer sounded. The shot was off, but Maloney had been hacked and stepped to the free throw line alone on the court with no time on the clock.
As if to add to the drama, Maloney missed the first before hitting nothing but net on the second to seal the comeback win as the Highlander sideline erupted.
“That was a huge shot by the freshman,” said Parton.
But things weren’t always so cheery on the G-P side, who trailed all night after a brief 2-0 lead to start the contest.
When Alcoa junior Kayla Newman hit a shot with 4:44 in the second period, the Lady Tornadoes had their first double-digit lead of the night, 27-16.
With 3:33 in the half, that Alcoa lead had swelled to its biggest of the game, 31-16, and the Lady Highlanders were still in a 12-point 36-24 hole to start the second half.
“We played absolutely awful in the first half,” said Parton. “Alcoa shot very well in the first half, and we just looked like we were all doing our own thing.
“We talked about some adjustments in the locker room, and how everyone had to be on the same page. You could definitely tell in the second half we came out as the Lady Highlanders, not as individuals.”
G-P senior Karsen Sims — who scored 11 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter — scored nine in the final 3:52 of regulation, including a clutch 16-foot pull-up to cut the Alcoa lead to 56-54 with 18 seconds remaining.
G-P sophomore guard Haris Price was the other Lady Highlander in double digits with 11 points, Luczak had six, junior Hunter Price along with sophomores Bethany Sutton and Alicia Sumeriski had a deuce apiece, and junior Micki Werner had a charity shot in the victory.
Newman and freshman Tara Shields led Alcoa with 14 points each, senior Katie Stubblefield had 12, freshman Hannah Troutt had seven, senior Tiffanie Moore had six, and sophomore Hannah Tate had three in the loss.
The Lady Highlanders next host District 3-AA rival Gibbs on Tuesday, while Alcoa hosts CAK on Tuesday.