Photo by Elmer Smith
Grainger Today Correspondent
WHITE PINE – After an undefeated run through the competition in the Middle Eight Conference regular season, the Rutledge Middle School Lady Pioneers took on the West View Lady Indians, last Tuesday night, in the conference basketball tournament championship game.
In the first quarter of the game played at White Pine Middle School, the Lady Pioneers got a pair of free throws from Allison Ramsey before the Lady Indians reeled off five-straight points. A three-point play from Tori Rutherford knotted the score at five-all. A long trey by Audrey Stratton and two baskets by Lauren Longmire gave Rutledge a 12-10 lead with one minute remaining in the first quarter. A West View basket was countered by two free throws from Rutherford as the first quarter ended with Rutledge holding a 14-12 lead.
Three baskets by Rutherford, the last one on a steal and layup, plus one bucket each from Kolbi Walker and Longmire stretched the Lady Pioneer lead to 24-12 midway through the second stanza. A basket by Stratton and three free throws from Gracie Jarnagin allowed Rutledge to hold on to a 29-22 lead at the half.
Although West View was in the one-and-one bonus less than halfway through the third quarter, the Lady Indians didn’t take advantage of the situation, and Rutledge got 10 points from Rutherford and four from Longmire to take a 43-31 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Although hampered by foul trouble which put Rutherford, Walker and Ramsey on the bench, the Lady Pioneers did what they’ve done all season by having other players step up and keep the opponent at bay. The Lady Pioneers connected on five free throws and a basket to post a 50-41 victory and take home the tournament championship.
Although limited in playing time because of foul trouble, Rutherford displayed her offensive skills by scoring 20 points while pulling down eight rebounds, dishing out five assists and getting steals. In addition, the Lady Pioneers got 10 points from Audrey Stratton, eight from Lauren Longmire, six from Gracie Jarnagin and two each from Abby Crowe, Kolbi Walker and Allison Ramsey.
“This has been a special team to coach,” said Lady Pioneer coach Deeann Stratton. “Each game we’ve had different players to step up and have strong offensive or defensive efforts. Tonight was a prime example of players stepping up, especially in the fourth quarter when Kolbi, Tori and Allison were limited, as all three had four fouls. Tori is just a special player. She is a hard worker and is always involved. She pushes her teammates and uses her ability and basketball knowledge to help her teammates improve. It’s been a great season, and they are a great group of girls. I’m looking forward to them moving on to high school and having success.”