SPENCER, Tenn.–Last season, a 39-37 win against rival Bledsoe County would have been underachieving, maybe even cause discontent, but, oh, how the times have changed.
The Lady Warriors, riding a 10-game win streak, came into Friday night with all the momentum after taking down Van Buren County at home earlier during that streak. The Eaglettes, on the other hand, sit below .500 on the season with a very precarious 2-seed still in the balance.
If there’s one thing that remains the same, though, it’s the home crowd that keeps rocking no matter the circumstances.
“It’s really great for the crowd to be behind us,” Eaglettes head coach Tyler Sapp said. “We struggled some throughout the year, and some of the girls feel like the crowds not behind them because of the great teams we had last year. We’re not winning as much, and they felt like the crowd didn’t support us as much. And tonight we needed that energy. When we have that energy here, it’s the toughest place to play.”
With the home crowd behind the Eaglettes and a full house on hand with neighboring Bledsoe County, there was not a seat left in the gymnasium, which is typical for a Friday night in Spencer. The hoards of fans, though, did not leave empty-handed as the Lady Warriors and Van Buren County put on a physical, defensive grudge match for the ages.
Early on, the stage was do0wn low in the post as neither team could really get a grasp on scoring as the 1st quarter ended with Bledsoe County on top 8-7. In the 2nd, Bledsoe County’s Brittany Singleton hit two threes before going cold for the rest of the game.
The Warriors went into the locker room ahead, but the margin was only four points with a slim 21-17 lead.
“We tried different thing to try and keep our girls focussed,” Bledsoe County head coach Carlos Davis said, referring to distraction of a 10-game win streak. “Tonight, that played a big factor in our loss. They played the best game that they’ve played all year long, and they’re not a bad basketball team. I feel like we overlooked them, and they shouldn’t have been overlooked by no means.”
Coming out in the second half, the Warriors, led by Carley Davis and Lynsey Keener stretched their lead double digits just before the fourth quarter, but the Eaglettes only trailed by eight going into the final eight minutes.
Cue the experienced and poised Tilly Dodson, who scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“I wouldn’t want the ball in anyone else’s hands at that point,” Sapp said, referring to Dodson. “Dodson and Mallory Christian both being in there and knowing how to handle the ball is big time experience for our younger players. And if we get out in transition like we did, we’re a really tough team to beat.”
Dodson eventually hit the game winner before helping her team hold off the Lady Warriors late, 39-37. The experience of playing a Double-A team like Bledsoe County was well worth it regardless of the outcome and may have spark some deja vu inadvertently.
“They’re kind of similiar to Marion County,” Sapp said. “Marion County has more outside shooters, though. This Bledsoe County team doesn;t have as many three-point shooters that can knock them down. They’re kind of streaky, but I don’t think there’s really a team in our district that matches up like they do because of their size and speed.”
The Lady Warriors head to Dunlap Monday to take on another bitter rival in Sequatchie County while Van Buren County gets ready to host the Indians on Tuesday.
VBHS — 7 | 10 | 10 | 12 || 39
BCHS — 8 | 13 | 14 | 2 || 37
VBHS (37) — Tilly Dodson (16), Kinzie Johnson (10), Mallory Christian (7)
BCHS (39) — Lynnsey Keener (14), Carley Davis (9), Brittany Singleton (6)