Lady Highlanders advance with win
The Lady Highlanders of Gatlinburg-Pittman extended their hoops season for another game with a 66-51 first-round region tournament win over the visiting Stone Memorial Lady Panthers on Friday night at Jack A. Parton Gymnasium.
The Lady Highlanders (25-6) led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter of a game that wasn’t as close as the final, setting the stage for a regional tournament semi-finals contest against the Alcoa Lady Tornadoes (20-10) at 7:30 p.m. Monday night at Carter High.
The Lady Tornadoes ended the season of a surprising Austin-East squad (15-9) in a 52-51 squeaker, also on Friday night.
G-P dominated A-E in three match-ups during the regular season, but the Blue and Gold’s 57-56 comeback thriller against the visiting Lady Tornadoes was a different story.
The Lady Highlanders overcame a 15-point deficit in that regular-season victory over Alcoa, capped by a game-winning charity shot from freshman Julia Maloney with 0.0 seconds on the fourth-quarter clock.
G-P knows there is much work to do to extend its season again, as Monday’s rematch with the Lady Tornadoes is also a do-or-die contest ... the winner earning a trip to the region tournament championship with a sub-state sectional tourney berth also guaranteed, and the loser going home.
The Lady Highlanders enter Monday’s semi-finals battle on a seven-game winning streak with 12 victories in their last 14 contests.
But the Lady Tornadoes are also hot, winning 10 of their past 13 games including six of the last seven.
“At this point, there are no cake walks,” said G-P coach Katie Parton. “It will definitely be a hard battle.
“We need to come out and take care of business. Defensively, we have to do a much better job of finding the key players in transition. We just have to bring it. At this point, you have to bring it every game.”
The Lady Highlanders brought it Friday night against an overmatched but stubborn Stone Memorial squad (10-22).
The Lady Panthers took three early leads, the last 8-7 with 6:22 in the first as Stone’s Jacki Livesay sniped a 3-bomb.
G-P sophomore Haris Price — who led all scorers with 23 points — hit a pair of charity shots to take a 9-8 lead with 6:14 in the opening frame, and it was all Lady Highlanders after that.
G-P went on a 19-1 tear to take a 26-9 lead when Price took it coast to coast with 34 seconds in the first.
The Lady Highlanders got their first 20-point lead when senior Karsen Sims, who was the other G-P player in double digits with 19 on the night, hit a charity shot with 5:57 in the half for a 32-12 edge.
Blue-and-Gold senior Micki Werner made a nice spin move to the hole for the biggest lead of the game, 35-12 with 4:55 in the second.
G-P built its first 30-point lead, 62-32, midway through the fourth when Sims took a midcourt steal to the hole, before mass substitutions led to a 19-4 Stone Memorial edge down the stretch to make it a more respectable final for the Lady Panthers.
“I was a little disappointed with our defense, even though it didn’t look like we gave up a lot of shots,” said Parton. “We just weren’t rotating well on defense. But we ended up fixing it, and overall I thought we played a pretty good game.
“They got on a run right there when we subbed our younger girls in, but you expect that. “Overall, we did what we had to do to get to the next game.”
G-P sophomore Dannie Luczak had eight points, Werner and Maloney had six apiece, and sophomore Bethany Sutton added four in the win.
Kirsten Potter led Stone Memorial with 14 points, Livesay added 10, Faith Van Ruden had nine, Abby Griffin had eight, Tiffany Cokkinias had four, Sydney Early had three, Emily Bryant had a deuce, and Makayla Kingston had a charity shot in the loss.