Highlanders take district-leading A-E to 2OT
The Gatlinburg-Pittman basketball teams split a pair with visiting District 3-AA rival Austin-East on Tuesday night, with the Lady Highlanders running away from the Lady Roadrunners 67-50 and the Blue-and-Gold boys falling 78-69 in a dramatic double-overtime affair with the district leaders.
The G-P girls (19-6 overall, 9-0 in District 3-AA) overcame a poor 3-of-18 shooting performance in the first quarter for a dominant 17-point victory over visiting district rival A-E (10-6, 5-5).
It was the second double-digit Lady Highlander win this season over the Lady Roadrunners, who were defeated 57-42 on their home court by G-P in mid December.
“Early on, we didn’t shoot the ball well and we had a slow start,” said G-P girls’ coach Katie Parton. “Once we got in a rhythm and knocked down some shots, we started to play Lady Highlander basketball.
“We played much better in the second half.”
After missing 15 first-quarter shots, the Lady Highlanders had to feel good about battling for a 9-9 tie heading into the second, after senior Karsen Sims drained a 16-footer with 1 second in the opening frame.
The Lady Highlanders earned their first double-digit lead of the night late in the second period, when sophomore guard Haris Price was left wide open and pulled up for a trey and a 27-15 lead with 2:31.
G-P’s biggest lead of the night was 23 points, coming with 31 seconds in the third when Sims grabbed a rebound and put it back in for two and hit a layup on consecutive possessions.
Despite another dominant G-P win, Parton warns that A-E could be a sleeper in the upcoming district tournament.
“Austin-East has improved since the first time we played them,” said the G-P coach. “They’re going to be a hard match-up for anyone in the tournament, because they’re just so athletic.”
The Blue-and-Gold girls had nine players in the scoring column.
Sims led G-P with 19 points, Price was the other Lady Highlander in double-digits with 17, junior Micki Werner added eight, sophomore Bethany Sutton had seven, sophomore Dannie Luczak had five, sophomore Alicia Sumeriski had four, junior Hunter Price had three, and freshmen Macee Tinker and Julia Maloney had a deuce apiece in the win.
A-E’s Anjelique Hyatt led all scorers with 23 points.
The G-P boys (14-12 overall, 3-6 in District 3-AA) battled back from a double-digit deficit and sent district top dog A-E (16-6, 9-1) to double overtime before eventually faltering down the stretch in the nine-point loss.
“The kids fought their guts out, and I’m very proud of them,” said G-P boys’ coach A.J. Bennett. “If we give that kind of effort out every night, we’re going to be fine the next couple of weeks.
“A-E is the No. 1 seed in the district tournament right now, and we went 40 minutes with them. We had some guys step up tonight, and I’m really proud of them.
“We’ve just got to learn to finish. We’re close, and hopefully we’re going to finish it when it matters.”
After falling into a double-digit hole, 27-17, by the 5:21 mark of the second, it appeared early that it would be a long night for the Highlanders.
But G-P kept plugging away, and when senior Davis Soehn pulled up for a trey from the top of the key and junior Steffan Schroeder hit a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions, the Highlanders had found a way to pull even at 40-40 with 2:28 in the third.
G-P grabbed its first lead since the opening seconds of the contest when Schroeder made a nice move to the basket for a layup and a 44-42 edge with 56 seconds in the third.
Knotted at 46-46 heading into the fourth, A-E’s Timothy Prigmore and Andre Wilson hit field goals on back-to-back possessions to grab the momentum and a 50-46 Roadrunner lead with 6:37 in regulation.
But Soehn answered for the Highlanders, pulling up for an NBA-range trey that hit nothing but net, cutting the A-E advantage to 50-49 with 5:28 left.
Soehn knotted the affair again at 54-54 with a 3-point shot from the corner as he was knocked to the ground with 2:30 in the game. No foul was called, but the shot rimmed the cylinder and fell in for the tie.
A-E’s Matthew Wagner gave the Roadrunners a 56-54 lead on a layup with 55 seconds left, but Schroeder made it the regulation score of 56-56 with a pair of clutch charity shots — despite being interrupted in the process of his second shot by a ref’s whistle calling for an irregular A-E timeout that the official apologized for granting immediately — with 34.2 seconds.
The Roadrunners held for the final shot, but the Highlander D held firm to send it to free basketball still knotted at 56s.
The Roadrunners jumped out to a 60-56 edge in the first four-minute overtime period and held a small lead the until the final 10 seconds.
Trailing 66-63, G-P junior Riley Trotter grabbed a rebound, put it back in and drew a foul with 9.8 seconds. Trotter banked the free throw in to knot it at 66s and sent it to a second overtime.
G-P sophomore Raj Bhula led G-P with 15 points, Schroeder had 14, Trotter and Soehn had 13 apiece, junior Clay Leatherwood had nine and junior Thomas Mackey had five in the loss.
Wilson led A-E and all scorers with 25 points.