PF seniors taste victory on their night
Senior night couldn’t have gone much better for the Pigeon Forge High School basketball teams Thursday night.
Both the Tigers (7-20 overall) and the Lady Tigers (16-8) earned victories over the visiting Bulldogs of Claiborne County,
The Tigers 71-70 win avenged a 74-68 loss to the Bulldogs back on Dec. 18, and in the process snapped a five-game losing streak.
With seniors Kaleb Black, Ben Vaughan, Austin McCarter and Cole Fritchman starting on their senior night, it was Pigeon Forge junior Trevor Jain that came out on fire. The lanky 11th grader scored 26 of his game-high 32 points in the first half, pushing the Tigers out to the early lead.
“I was really proud of Trevor coming out and scoring like he did, but we knew we were going to have to get it from somewhere else in the second half,” Pigeon Forge coach Jonathan Shultz said.
After a rough third quarter, the Tigers had fallen back behind the Bulldogs, but the Tigers did something they haven’t done too much this year. They fought back to win.
“The guys showed some character, and they battled back and got the win,” Shultz said. “It’s good to come out on the winning side of a really close game, we’ve had the other happen quite a bit.
“Ben Vaughan and Kaleb Black really stepped up and kept us in it. Both of them were seniors coming out on senior night (taking the lead).
“I’m proud of the seniors, proud of their effort and proud of the men they’ve become and I was proud of the win they got on senior night.”
Having McCarter back on the court for senior night was especially special for the coach.
“He tore his ACL in football, and most people would have never made it back in time back for basketball, but he did his rehab knowing maybe it would only be three or four games, and maybe none at all.
“He’s been a real spark for us, he had a good defensive play and made a couple of good assists in the game, and Cole made some good assists in the game, too.”
Beyond Jain’s 32 points, Black and Vaughan were next with 11 and nine, respectively.
Nate Marine added eight points, while Jake Kingery netted four, Anthony Shuler had three and Peyton Marshall and Ryan Beal had two apiece.
The girls won a one-sided 64-38 game over the Lady Bulldogs, which was similar to their 57-34 victory in the teams’ first matchup. The Lady Tigers raced out to a 12-point lead, 29-17, by halftime and cruised in the second half to the comfortable 26-point victory.
Callie Clabo’s 18 points paced Pigeon Forge in what was the final regular season home game for two Lady Tigers — seniors Mindy Brackins and Katie Shields — as well as team manager Lydia Cantrell.
“It’s been my pleasure and honor to coach these girls,” PF coach Paul Reagan said. “They’ve been great ambassadors of our program on the court and off the court. I’m so proud of them for everything and for sticking through it. They came in with a large group of freshmen and they stuck through it.”
As for Cantrell, Reagan said he appreciated her efforts too. “She’s helped us immensely,” he said.
Junior Mikayla Trombley joined Clabo in ensuring their seniors would go off the court at PFHS as winners, pouring in 12 more points for the Lady Tigers.
Brackins added 10 points to the cause, while Shields — who’s normally all defense and rebounding — scored six points, including the first 3-pointer of her high school career.
Sophomore Rebecca Baker also had six points, while freshman Shelby Dockery and Alyssa Mitchell had four each, Courtney Leatherwood totaled three and Natalie Holbert scored one point.
The Lady Tigers will be in action again next on Friday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, where they’ll face the winner of an earlier matchup between Union County and Carter in the District 3-AA tournament.
Pigeon Forge’s boys squad is slated for another epic battle with Gatlinburg-Pittman Tuesday night in the tournament’s play-in game at G-P. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.