Grainger Today Correspondent
RUTLEDGE – The Grainger High School basketball teams hosted the Chuckey-Doak Black Knights, last Tuesday night, in the finale of the District 2-AA season. A win by the Lady Grizzlies would result in the sixth-straight district regular championship for Grainger. A loss would result in a tie for first place in the regular season.
The Lady Grizzlies wasted no time in taking control of the game as Kaitlin Simon scored three baskets and dropped in four free throws to spark a 26 point first-quarter shooting exhibition. In addition, the Lady Grizzlies got a pair of treys from Karli Combs, a deuce and a trey from Haley Crowe and a trey from Isabelle Stratton. While the offense was lighting up the scoreboard, the defense limited the Lady Knights to five points as the second quarter started with the Lady Grizzlies holding a 26-5 lead.
In the second quarter, Chuckey Doak rebounded from the disastrous first eight minutes of play and outscored Grainger, who got five points from Combs, four from Simon and a bucket by Abbey Hodge, and the game went to halftime with the Lady Grizzlies holding a 37-23 lead.
A pair of treys and a deuce by Crowe and a pair of deuces from Simon led the third-quarter scoring for Grainger, who added one point to the lead, and the game went to the final eight minutes with Grainger holding a 53-38 advantage. Although the Lady Knights made a run in the fourth quarter, they were unable to get closer than nine points before the Lady Grizzlies pulled out to a 64-53 victory.
The big three came up huge for Grainger in the game. Simon scored 20 points, Crowe, 16, and Combs had 14. In addition, the Lady Grizzlies got six points from Hodge, five from Sydney McCubbins and three from Isabelle Stratton.
“We played well and focused on both ends of the court,” said coach Justin Combs. “It’s exciting to see us come out and start a game like that, especially a big game with the district regular season championship on the line. Between this game and the Greeneville game, we’ve played some really good basketball. We just need to find a way to put a whole four-quarter game together.” The victory gave the Lady Grizzlies their sixth-straight regular season championship and improved their district record over the six year period to 71-3.
The win also gave the Lady Grizzlies the first-place seed in the district tournament. As a result of their seeding, the Lady Grizzlies will take on the winner of the game between the number four and five seeded teams, Saturday, 4 p.m. at Cumberland Gap High School.
In the boys game, the Grizzlies, who were led by Nathan Hayes with six points, also got points from from Dalton Conn, who added five points, and Ty Brooks, with four, for a 20-12 Grainger lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Grainger corp of long-range bombers struck as James Luttrell, Jacob Bunch, Brooks, Conn and Nathan Hayes all connected for treys. Add to that, six points from Justin Warner in the paint and four points from Bryce McBee, which allowed the Grainger lead to reach 45-20 at the half.
The Grainger offensive explosion continued in the third quarter as Brooks canned a pair of treys and a deuce, while Hayes knocked down two long-range shots. The Grizzlies scoring total reached 67 at the end of the third quarter. The Black Knights managed only five points in the third quarter, and the game went into the final eight minutes of play with Grainger holding a 67-25 lead.
With a running clock in effect and the Grainger substitutes in the game, the Grizzlies did not score in the final quarter, while Chuckey-Doak scored 14 points, as the Grizzlies registered a 67-39 victory.
Nathan Hayes and Ty Brooks, with 15 points each, led the Grizzlies in scoring. The duo was followed by Dalton Conn, with 10 points, Justin Warner, with eight points, and six points from Jacob Bunch.
The Grainger Grizzlies completed their district schedule with a 9-1 record and tied for first with Greeneville.
“It was great to see us come out and play three great quarters, especially in a game as important as this one,” said Grizzly coach Derrick Combs. “Most people didn’t understand how important this game was. If we lost this game, we wouldn’t be tied for first in the regular season and wouldn’t have had the tiebreaker for the top seed. We’d had the tiebreaker all season and knew we would be a first seed as long as we won our home game (against Greeneville) and beat the other teams we needed to beat.”
However, the Grizzlies hold the tiebreaker and will be the number one seed in the district tournament, which will be held at Cumberland Gap High School. Grainger will take on the winner of the game between the number four and number five seeds in their first tournament action. Their game is scheduled for this Saturday with a 5:30 p.m. start time.