BYRDSTOWN, Tenn.–At the beginning of the season, many fans thought that this year’s Eaglette squad would be but a shadow of the past few years.
As they fell to the Lady Bobcats 75-40 Saturday night in their fourth straight sectional appearance, Van Buren County mirrored a former team: the 2014-2015 squad that ran into the 30-point Pickett County wall. In fact, this year’s team shadow that dominant performance by fighting their way to a substate berth.
“The last few games there, we’ve been grinding to the end,” Van Buren County head coach Tyler Sapp said. “Having Tilly and Mallory’ experience really helped us with that. They’re a gritty bunch of girls, and they never quit. They never gave up even when were playing teams that were much, much more talented than we were. We just found ways to be competitive and ways to win.”
It was none other than Tilly Dodson that kept Van buren County fighting as she amassed 23 and hit the 1,000-point milestone in her final game as an Eaglette.
“She’s an inspiration to everyone,” Sapp Explained. “Shen just plays her heart out and gives her best every time she’s out on the floor. It was an uphill climb for her to get to 1,000 this year. She was the only person on our team to score double-digits tonight, so she didn’t back away from the challenge.”
Going in as an underdog to an established state powerhouse, Van Curen County needed every lifeline it could get, but even early on, the Eaglettes had made it a game with the Bobcats.
“In the second quarter, we were only down by 10,” Sapp said. “After that, we turned it over a few straight times. We fouled them, and they got some and-ones. We didn’t shoot the ball very well, and that was all she wrote there. It was just a cumulation of all types of events there.”
Pickett County would pick up the pace late, scoring 27 points in the third quarter alone with the help of sophomore Aaliyah Brown. With the win, the Lady Bobcats will head off to the Glass House for a shot at the Class A State Title in Murfreesboro.
For Van Buren County, they end their season with a 15-18 record, just one game shy of a second-straight Tourney appearance. That makes a pretty good run
for first year head coach Tyler Sapp.
“Being around these kids everyday for almost a year, it doesn’t get any easier when they graduate,” Sapp said. “We’re such a tight-knit group. It doesn’t get any easier watching them graduate and other things because we’re a family. this is my first time ever doing it, and I don’t forsee it getting any easier.”
As for next year’s squad, the Eaglettes lose three seniors including Dodson, but as this year’s team has proven, shadows can linger, and linger is not always a negative thing for a program that has seen huge success in the past six years.
PCHS — 18 | 20 | 27 | 10 || 75
VBHS — 7 | 8 | 11 | 14 || 40
SBA (75) — Aaliyah Brown (25), Kassidy Geesling (12), Savannah Hammock (12)
VBHS (40) — Tilly Dodson (23), Mallory Christian (5), Kinzie Johnson (3), Mika Davis (3)