Alcoa comeback ends G-P season
And just like that it was over.
The Gatlinburg-Pittman Lady Highlanders (25-7) had their state tournament dreams crushed by an Alcoa Lady Tornadoes freshman with a late overtime shot in a 66-65 shocker during the do-or-die region tournament semifinals Monday night at Carter High School.
After G-P sophomore Haris Price gave the Lady Highlanders a 65-64 lead on a pair of charity shots with 9.5 seconds, Alcoa freshman Hannah Troutt came through with a game-winning drive to make it the eventual final with 3.6 seconds in overtime.
Evidently lost in the excitement of the moment, the clock operator allowed time to continue running after the made basket until there was just 0.3 seconds showing.
After a brief conference, the referees awarded the Lady Highlanders 1.5 seconds with the length of the court to travel.
With no time to dribble, G-P tried a long inbound pass that was intercepted by Alcoa (21-10), ending the Blue-and-Gold season.
“You can’t expect referees to get every call right,” said G-P coach Katie Parton. “Even though I felt like we deserved the 3.6 seconds, you take the 1.5 seconds and hope for the best.”
G-P led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, including an 11-point 52-41 edge as late as 4:03 in regulation.
Troutt was the hero of the night for the Lady Tornadoes, not only hitting the game winner in overtime but also for getting the underdogs to the extra frame.
Scoreless on the night, Troutt hit two huge 3-point shots in the final 49 seconds of regulation to send it to OT knotted at 57-57.
There were 10 ties or lead changes in the four-minute overtime period, including Troutt’s game winner.
It was a role reversal from the regular-season battle between the squads, when the Lady Highlanders overcame a 15-point deficit for a dramatic one-point victory in a mid-January battle at G-P.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, the Lady Highlanders are keeping their heads high.
“I feel like the girls left everything out on the court,” said Parton. “I told the girls that this loss doesn’t take away anything they’ve accomplished this year.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve even had the opportunity to be in the district (tournament) championship, and we won it.
“And we came here (to Carter for the region tournament), and we put up a great battle.”
Missed free throws were big for G-P, including a pair in the overtime period that could have been the difference between a season-ending loss and a sub-state sectional contest.
“I thought we fought hard enough to get the job done,” said Parton. “But we missed key free throws throughout the entire ball game that hurt us.”
After the two teams battled back-and-forth for the majority of the first two quarters, G-P used a 7-0 run to close the half with a 30-25 Lady Highlanders.
G-P junior Hunter Price started the run with a 16-footer, Karsen Sims followed with a weaving-through-traffic layup, and Haris Price closed it with an NBA-range trey of her own with 2 seconds on the clock.
Price made it a 9-0 run with a 15-footer to open the third for a 32-25 lead, but the Lady Tornadoes made a big push to knot it at 37-37 when Tara Shields hit her fourth deep 3-pointer of the night with 2:23.
But once again the Lady Highlanders responded, this time with an 8-0 run to close the third with a 45-37 advantage.
G-P sophomore Dannie Luczak started the spurt with an three-point play inside, Hunter Price followed by sniping a trey, and Sims closed the frame with a drive to the hole for the eight-point lead.
The Lady Highlanders earned their first double-digit lead of the night when Price hit another trey to make it 48-37 with 7:14 in regulation.
Alcoa cut the lead to single digits when Katie Stubblefield converted a fastbreak layup to make it 49-41 with 5:02 to go.
Sims answered with a coast-to-coast layup to make it 51-41 with 4:23.
Shields made it single digits again with her fifth trey of the night, cutting it to 52-44 with 3:49.
Stubblefield trimmed it back to six points, 52-46, with a drive to the hoop with 3:23.
A three-point play for Alcoa two minutes later pulled the Lady Tornadoes to three points down, 54-51.
Then, out of nowwhere, Troutt hit her first shots of the night — a pair of 3-pointers — to cut the game to 55-54 with 49 seconds and send it to overtime at 57-57 with 22 seconds remaining.
Haris Price led G-P and all scorers with 25 points, Sims was the other Lady Highlander in double digits with 18, Hunter Price finished with eight, Maloney had five, Sutton and Luczak had four apiece, and senior Micki Werner had a charity shot in the loss.
Stubblefield led Alcoa’s four double-digit scorers with 19 points, Shields had 16, Moore had 13, Troutt had 10, and junior Kayla Newman had eight in the win.
Alcoa will take on Christian Academy of Knoxville Lady Warriors (22-7) 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for the Region 2-AA Tournament championship at Carter.