Grainger Today Correspondent
STRAWBERRY PLAINS – Last week, the Grainger High School Lady Grizzly basketball team traveled to Carter High School to participate in the Lady Hornets’ Thanksgiving Classic.
In their first game played Monday, November 20 against the Lady Tornadoes from Alcoa High School, Grainger got off to a very slow start and trailed 12-1 midway through the first quarter. At that point, coach Justin Combs sat some starters down and inserted a team composed of three freshmen and two sophomores on the court. Freshman Tori Rutherford lit up the scoreboard for the lady Grizzlies as she knocked down a trio of treys and two free throws to lead a big comeback. With a trey from McKenzie Stratton and a deuce from Lauren Longmire, the Lady Grizzlies erased the deficit and held a 17-15 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Grainger got a pair of threes and a deuce from Haley Crowe, two baskets from Sydney McCubbins and a 2-pointer from McKenzie Stratton to expand their lead to 31-22 at the half. In the third quarter, with a strong defensive effort, which allowed only a two-point basket and two free throws, the Lady Grizzlies pulled away to a 45-26 lead. In that quarter, the Lady Grizzlies received a balanced scoring effort as McCubbins scored four points, Abby Hodge and Crowe contributed three points each and two points from McKenzie Stratton and Rutherford sent the game to the final quarter.
In that quarter, Matty Tanner scored three points, with Rutherford, Crowe, McCubbins and Hodge adding two points, to lock up the 56-38 victory. Tori Rutherford led Grainger with 15 points. She was followed by Haley Crowe, with 13 points, and Sydney McCubbins, with 10 points. In addition, McKenzie Stratton scored seven points, with Abby Hodge adding six. Matty Tanner totaled three points, and Lauren Longmire added two points.
Grainger 57, Volunteer 45
Last Tuesday in their second game in the Carter tournament, the Lady Grizzlies took on the Lady Falcons from Volunteer High School. Isabelle Stratton opened the scoring in the game with a big 3-pointer before a basket and two free throws allowed Volunteer to take a 4-3 lead. A second trey by Stratton was countered by a Lady Falcon trey as Volunteer took a 7-6 lead. At that point, coach Justin Combs changed the lineup and ushered three freshmen and two sophomores into the game. The result was four points from Tori Rutherford, two from Lauren Longmire and a free throw from Abby Hodge that completed a seven-point run for a 13-7 lead. After a basket by the Lady Falcons, Matty Tanner knocked down a trey for a 16-11 Grainger lead at the end of the first quarter.
After the Lady Falcons connected on a trey to start the second quarter, a basket from Tanner, two free throws from Haley Crowe and baskets by Rutherford, Crowe and Sydney McCubbins staked the Lady Grizzlies to a 28-17 lead. However, the Lady Grizzlies, whose play was ragged, did not play good basketball for the remainder of the half which ended with a 30-24 lead. The only basket was by Crowe. In the third period, five Grainger players contributed 14 points for the Lady Grizzlies. Their defense played strong to help build a 45-31 lead heading into the final quarter. The teams battled on near-even terms as the game ended with a 56-45 victory for the Lady Grizzlies, who improved their record to 3-0 for the season.
Tori Rutherford and Sydney McCubbins, with 13 points each, led the Lady Grizzlies in scoring. In addition, Haley Crowe added nine and Isabelle Stratton earned eight. Abby Hodge and Matty Tanner had five points each, and McKenzie Stratton and Lauren Longmire each earned two ponts.
The Grainger basketball teams will see their next action Friday, December 1 when they travel to West Greene to open their District 2-A schedule with games against the Buffaloes.
“We didn’t have a good effort tonight,” said coach Combs of the Volunteer game. “We had too many execution errors. I think our kids think they can just flip a switch when the want to. They couldn’t get it flipped tonight. This was much like the first quarter in the Alcoa game, when I put some younger players on the court and things started to click. I tried to warn them about not taking this team for granted in the pre-game talk. We’re young and I don’t think our kids get it. We pulled this game out, but I don’t like to be out hustled or out executed.”