Highlanders fall short vs. Gibbs
Time ran out on a No.6-seeded Gatlinburg-Pittman comeback, and the Highlander basketball season came to a close in a 63-55 first-round District 3-AA Tournament loss to the No.3 Gibbs Eagles on Friday night at Jack A. Parton Gymnasium.
“We fought back in the second half and found some things that worked in the third quarter, putting pressure on them and creating some turnovers,” said G-P coach A.J. Bennett. “We never gave up, we just kind of ran out of time.
“And credit Gibbs, because they made the shots when they needed to.”
In a big 31-20 hole at the break, the Highlanders (15-16) opened the third with a 13-4 tear to cut it to 35-33 when junior Christian Maloney scored a field goal with 4:22 on the clock.
G-P senior Davis Soehn started the run with a trey to cut it to 33-23 with 7:19 in the third, and juniors Clay Leatherwood and Steffan Schroeder followed with field goals on back-to-back possessions to cut it to 33-27 with 6:44.
Schroeder added a drive to the basket and Leatherwood hit a pair of charity shots to cut it to 35-31 with 4:43 in the third.
Gibbs (20-7) answered and went back up by six points when Travis Imes grabbed a rebound and put it back in for a deuce to make it 43-37 with 19 seconds in the third.
But Soehn came right back with a 3-pointer from the corner to cut it to 43-40 heading into the fourth.
Leatherwood opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a baseline drive to the hoop to make it a one-point game, 43-42, with 6:42 in regulation.
G-P junior Thomas Mackey also cut it to 45-44 with a pair from the stripe at the 5:39 mark, but that’s as good as it would get for the Highlanders the rest of the night.
Gibbs went on a 14-5 streak to take another double-digit lead, 59-49, when Aaron Corum hit a pair of charity shots with 37.9 seconds on the clock, icing the Eagle victory and ending the G-P season.
“It was an up-and-down year,” said Bennett. “But the thing about the guys I loved was they’d come to practice every day, worked hard and never gave up.
“We’re certainly going to miss (senior) Davis (Soehn). He provided a lot of energy, he came to work every day and he gave us his all. He’s had a good career, and we’re going to miss him.
“But we’ve got 11 guys coming back, and we’ve got to go back to work. We’ve got to put the time into it. I think the guys realize now that defense and rebounding is going to decide our fate and how we build this program.”
Soehn led G-P with 16 points, Mackey had 12, Leatherwood had 10, Schroeder had nine, Maloney had four, and junior Riley Trotter and sophomore Raj Bhula had a deuce apiece in the loss.
Corum led Gibbs and all scorers with 23 points, Hunter Hopson had 11, Jay Cade had 10, A.J. Rucker had eight, Imes had seven and Justin Ownby had four in the win.
Gibbs advances to play the No.2 Fulton Falcons (19-6) at 5:30 p.m. in a semi-finals contest today at the new G-P gym.
Although the G-P boys’ season is over, the No.1-seeded Lady Highlanders (22-6) still have work to do as they take on the No.4 Austin-East Lady Roadrunners (13-7) at 7 p.m. tonight for a semi-finals affair at the new G-P gym.
A-E defeated the No.5 Gibbs Lady Eagles (8-18) 66-43 in the first round on Friday night.