Photo by Robert Turner
Grainger Today Correspondent
RUTLEDGE – Last Thursday night, the Grainger High School basketball teams took on the Black Knights from Chuckey-Doak in a game that had been postponed from the previous Friday because of winter weather.
In the first varsity game of an exciting night of basketball between the Lady Grizzlies and the Lady Knights, the Lady Grizzlies received three points each from Tori Rutherford and Abbey Hodge, a basket from Haley Crowe and a free throw from Sydney McCubbins but still trailed 12-9 at the end of the first quarter. In spite of six second-quarter points from Rutherford and a pair of free throws from Hodge, Grainger fell further behind and trailed 24-17 at the half.
Although Grainger outscored Chuckey-Doak by two in the third quarter, the Lady Grizzlies went into the final eight minutes of the game trailing 32-27. The Lady Knights scored the first four points of the final quarter to build their lead to 38-27 with six minutes remaining in the game. At that time, the Lady Grizzly offense ignited as Hodge had a basket and two free throws, Rutherford had a three-point play and Matty Tanner connected on a pair of free throws. Grainger quickly cut their deficit to 38-36. Four points for the Lady Knights was followed by a basket by Hodge and two points from Sydney McCubbins, once again reducing the Chuckey-Doak lead to two at 44-42 with three minutes left to play. That was followed by a three-point play from McCubbins for a 45-44 lead with 2:10 left to play. Two free throws by Crowe were answered by a basket by the Lady Knights. Crowe then knocked down two additional free throws before Isabelle Stratton, who had scored five third-quarter points, kept the Lady Grizzlies within striking distance. Grainger then knocked down four free throws, and the Lady Grizzlies roared back with 26 fourth-quarter points to post the stirring victory. In racking up the win, the Lady Grizzlies outscored Chuckey-Doak 14-2 down the stretch for the 53-46 win.
Tori Rutherford, with 14 points, led the balanced Lady Grizzly scoring which included 11 points from Abbey Hodge, nine from Isabelle Stratton, seven for Sydney McCubbins, six for Haley Crowe, four for Matty Tanner and two by McKenzie Stratton.
“I’m pleased overall,” said Lady Grizzly coach Justin Combs. “We cut into the lead a little in the third quarter and had three freshmen and two seniors in the game when we went on the scoring run. Our older players, Haley (Crowe) and Isabelle (Stratton), wanted the ball and had big plays down the stretch.”
After the exciting comeback by the Lady Grizzlies, the Grainger boys took the floor to battle the Knights. Chase Muncy opened the scoring with a free throw before the Knights knocked down a trey. A pair of deuces by Jacob Bunch, a trey from Darren Goen and baskets by Jeb Hurst, Dalton Conn and
Muncy staked the Grizzlies to a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After the Knights opened the second quarter with a deuce which was answered by a basket by Conn, the Knights connected on a trey and two deuces to take a 19-18 lead with five and a half minutes remaining in the half. For the remainder of the half, the Grizzlies scored 14 straight-points on treys by Bunch, Goen and Conn, a three-point play by Muncy and a deuce by Conn to open a 32-19 lead at the half.
However, the Knights carved that lead back to three points by scoring the first 10 points of the third quarter to cut the Grizzly lead to 32-29. That was followed by a deuce from Marquice Fifield which stopped the streak. Fifield then added four additional baskets in the third quarter. In addition, Grainger got a three-point play from Bunch to hold a 45-37 lead after three quarters.
At the beginning of the final quarter, the Knights battled back and outscored Grainger by seven points to cut the Grizzly lead to 51-50 before two long range bombs from Goen allowed the Grizzlies to hold a 57-54 lead with just under three minutes left in the game. After the teams swapped points, the Knights scored again to knot the score at 59-all with 1:42 remaining in the game. A basket by Muncy, a 2-pointer from Conn and two free throws from Fifield opened a 65-59 lead. After knocking down a trey, the Knights retook possession with a chance to tie with eight seconds remaining in the game. However, the Grainger defense would not allow an uncontested three and after the failed trey, Chuckey-Doak got a rebound basket. The Grizzlies held on for a 65-64 win.
“That run at the end of the first half ultimately led to the win,” said Grainger head coach Adam Wolfenbarger. “Before the run, they were holding the ball some and even though we had some guys in foul trouble, I decided to bring some pressure, and they threw it away. It snowballed from there when we hit a three, a two and one and another three at the buzzer. Bringing the pressure is the kind of call that, if it goes right, makes you look smart and if it doesn’t, makes you look dumb. After they pulled even, we came down and scored and then hit enough foul shots to hang on.”
Marquice Fifield, who connected on five treys in the third and knocked down his first six free throw attempts in the final quarter, led the Grizzlies with 20 points. He was followed by Jacob Bunch with 14 points, Darren Goen, who connected on four treys for 12 points, and nine points from Dalton Conn, who saw his first action of the season. In addition, Chase Muncy added eight points and was a force on the boards, while Jeb Hurst tallied two points.