DUNLAP, Tenn.–Missing some key pieces in their matchup earlier this season, the Indians avenged the Pikeville pitfall to gain 3rd in District 7-AA and a win over bitter rival Bledsoe County in a Monday night Battle for the Stump.
Last time around, senior post Ireland Burch was absent from the lineup, which was not an easy hole to fill in enemy territory. With Burch and the addition of sophomore guard Chloe Barger, the Indians were able to combine depth with physical play for 43-40 win over the first-place Warriors.
“We covered them a lot better in the zone,” Lady Indians coach Ron Davis said. “We did a good job rebounding–not as good as we need to–but we did better. Then we got Ireland back. She got to play the whole second half, so that made a big difference.”
Bledsoe County, on the other hand, drops two straight rivalry matchups after sealing the regular season district title the Tuesday prior. Those two losses came by a combined five points to Sequatchie County and Van Buren County.
“The atmosphere played a big factor,” Bledsoe County head coach Carlos Davis explained. “The last two games have been stressful situations, and we’ve not come out on the positive end of it. Van Buren was the same way. It was just two tight ball games.”
Early on, both teams were neck and neck through halftime, but midway through the 2nd quarter, the lack of shot clocks in the high school games worked into the Indians’ game plan.
“We could have went down by six or seven points if we would have played with them,” R. Davis said, referring to his team’s tactic of stalling late in the first half. We should have held it up earlier. We wanted to tie it up or go one up and hold it until we got Ireland back in the game.”
Cross court, though, stalling can wear down on an opponent as much as it might help the team initiating it.
“They tried to play keep-away for quite a while,” C. Davis said. “We were able to get a few turnovers off of it, and that actually helped us get back in the game. It is what it is. That game could go either way, especially when we’re both fully-staffed.”
The Warriors played from behind for most of the 2nd half, but they did manage to outscore the Indians in the fourth quarter with nine of those 13 points coming via Lynnsey Keener who would end the night with 15. Keener and Carley Davis were challenged heavily down in the paint by a reunited Indian duo.
“Ireland was definitely a factor, and we managed to get her in foul trouble in the 1st half,” C. Davis said. Jenifer Tholken is usually as strong as she is, so it’s a one-two punch. It’s hard to deal with, but our one-two combo is hard to deal with as well. It was just fun to watch all four of them playing down in the paint.”
With the 43-40 win, the Indians will likely face Signal Mountain in the district tournament while pairing Bledsoe County up with the possibility of Grundy County. That, in turn could lead to another Battle for the Stump either in the 7-AA championship or 3rd place game.
The Indians travel to Van Buren County Tuesday while the Warriors host the Pirates of South Pittsburg in Pikeville.
SCHS — 11 | 8 | 13 | 11 || 43
BCHS — 10 | 10 | 7 | 13 || 40
SCHS (42) — Jordan Smith (18), Gracie Tate (13), Ireland Burch (8)
BCHS (52) — Lynnsey Keener (15), Carley Davis (8), Trinity Brown (6)