Highlanders split regular-season finale with Gibbs
The Gatlinburg-Pittman basketball squads traveled to District 3-AA rival Gibbs for the regular-season finale, and the Blue and Gold split a pair of lopsided affairs with the girls winning 66-36 and the boys falling 65-41.
The Lady Highlanders (22-6 overall, 12-0 in District 3-AA) finished the regular season unblemished in the district after defeating the Lady Eagles (8-17, 3-9) by 30 points on Friday.
The game was never in doubt after G-P built a 27-2 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We just got lots of stops early and converted layups off of them,” said G-P coach Katie Parton.
Even a non-competitive contest has its benefits.
“A lot of younger girls got a lot of playing time tonight, which is good experience for them,” said Parton. “And a win is a win.”
The Lady Highlanders finished the season sweep of Gibbs after defeating the Lady Eagles 75-44 at Gatlinburg in mid-January.
G-P sophomore Haris Price led the Blue and Gold and all scorers with 16 points, junior Hunter Price followed with 14, junior Micki Werner was the other Lady Highlander in double-digits with 13, sophomore Dannie Luczak had seven, senior Karsen Sims had six, sophomore Alicia Sumeriski had five, sophomores Bethany Sutton and Sydney Perry had a deuce apiece, and freshman Macee Tinker had a charity shot in the win.
Haley Cavalaris led Gibbs with 14 points, Karri Byrd and Kaitlyn Trent had eight apiece, and Ashlyne Wallan, Elizabeth Allen and Brittany Blankenship had a deuce each in the loss.
Trailing 48-32 heading into the fourth, the G-P boys (14-15 overall, 3-9 in District 3-AA) were unable to mount a comeback charge in an eventual 24-point loss to Gibbs (19-7, 7-5).
Despite the uninspiring loss, the Highlanders will try to remain optimistic with the district tournament just around the corner.
“Everybody is 0-0, because it’s a new season now,” said G-P coach A.J. Bennett. “We’ve had our ups and downs this year, but none of that matters anymore.
“Loser goes home now, so it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’re going to be playing on our home court (for the district tourney), so we’re going to go leave it all out on the court. We’ve got to play, get on a run and make it happen. I expect great effort, so we’ll see what happens.”
On Friday night, the G-P boys were in a hole the entire first half, fighting just to stay in the game.
After Gibbs’ Jay Cade made a midcourt steal and took it to the hoop for a two-handed slam, the Eagles led s12-4 with 2:45 in the opening frame.
G-P managed to cut it to a two-point game with 53.3 seconds in the first after sophomore Raj Bhula hit a layup and senior Davis Soehn sniped a 4-point play from the corner to trim it to 14-12.
But Gibbs answered with an 8-0 run to take a double-digit 22-12 lead when Justin Ownby drained a trey from the corner with 6:16 until intermission. The Eagles went on to hold a 14-point, 33-19 lead at the break.
Gibbs opened the third with a 6-0 spurt to take a 20-point, 39-19, lead ... its biggest of the night at that point.
Bhula snapped the streak to cut it to 39-21 on a drive to the hole with 5:34 in the third, but the Highlanders still trailed by double-digits, 48-32, heading into the fourth.
Junior Steffan Schroeder led G-P with 13 points, Soehn and Bhula had six apiece, juniors Thomas Mackey and Clay Leatherwood had five each, junior Christian Maloney had three, sophomore Gabe Hinton had a deuce, and sophomore Cole Fuller had a charity shot in the loss.
Cade led Gibbs and all scorers with 27 points, Hunter Hopson had 11, A.J. Rucker had nine, Ownby and Travis Imes had six apiece, and Jonathan Mills had a deuce in the win.
The G-P boys next host arch rival Pigeon Forge at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the district tournament play-in game, while the G-P girls host 7 p.m. next Saturday against the winner of the Austin-East/Gibbs first-round district tournament contest.