Tough losses a lesson for G-P
Thursday night’s doubleheader with Cocke County was a learning experience for Gatlinburg-Pittman.
Both the Highlander boys and girls lost on a free throw with less than two seconds to play. The G-P girls fell 57-56 in overtime when Taylor Thornton sunk a free throw with .5 seconds left in overtime. The Fighting Cocks won the boys contest 59-58 when Dylan Dockery sunk a foul shot with 1.3 seconds left. Both fouls came at the other end of the court, but led to shots because of the double bonus.
“We have to know the situation,” said G-P girls coach Katie Parton. “I said in the huddle, ‘Whatever we do, we don’t want to foul.’ ”
Both teams dealt with critical injury blows. The Highlander girls were without starting point guard Haris Price, who is expected to be back Saturday after injuring her wrist against Cosby. The G-P boys lost Clay Leatherwood to injury in the first half on Thursday. Coach A.J. Bennett said that injury would be evaluated Friday.
“Obviously he’s a great player,” Bennett said. “Our guys will just have to jump in there and fill the gap for them.”
Thomas Mackey scored 14 while Steffen Schroeder and Christian Maloney each scored 13 for the Highlanders. G- couldn’t stop Dockery, though, who finished with 24. The Highlanders had a 58-55 lead in the final minute of a back-and-forth game marred by two first-half technicals and a fan ejection. That’s when Hunter Suggs, who finished with seven points, tied the game with a 3-pointer.
G-P had a shot at the win, but Dockery was fouled in the scrum that followed for the rebound.
“I’m proud of our kids first of all because we overcame a lot of adversity,” Bennett said. “These are the games you need because we got better tonight. We might have lost the game but we’ve been trying to learn toughness and we found some grit tonight.”
It was the same for Parton’s girls team, which found offense despite missing its centerpiece in Price. Dannie Luczak poured in 14 points while freshman Rylie Patterson, filling in for Price, had 10 points. Macee Tinker and Micki Werner added eight each.
Patterson almost saved the day when she nailed three foul shots at the death in regulation to force overtime. She was fouled shooting a 3-pointer, which kept the Highlanders alive.
But the final whistle went Cocke County’s way.
“I really though they battled,” Parton said. “I thought they played hard. Playing without someone that has really been one of our best players since she was a freshman I thought showed a lot.”