Grainger Today Correspondent
BULLS GAP – The Rutledge Middle School junior varsity girls basketball team traveled to Bulls Gap Monday, December 18 to participate in the Bulls Gap Junior Varsity tournament. Their first opponent was Rogersville Middle School.
In the first quarter, the Lady Pioneers received a basket and a free throw from Marly Tanner, Cierstin Phifer and Alyvia Sneed and a basket from Halli Stuffle to open an 11-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Halli Stuffle knocked down a trey, with Tanner and Sneed adding a field goal each, as Rutledge led 18-4 at the half.
In the third quarter, Sneed scored the only basket for the Lady Pioneers, who saw their lead cut to 20-13 as the game headed into the final six minutes of the game. In that final six minutes, Phifer connected on a pair of deuces and two free throws. Suzanne Barker and Sneed connected on baskets to complete the scoring in the Lady Pioneers’ 30-15 victory.
Alyvia Sneed and Cierstin Phifer, with nine points each, led the Lady Pioneers in scoring. They were followed by Marly Tanner and Halli Stuffle, who added five points each, and Suzanne Barker, who added two points.
Lady Pioneers 34
Greeneville Middle 26
In the semifinal of the Bulls Gap tournament, the Lady Pioneers took on the Lady Devils from Greeneville Middle School. In a cold-shooting first quarter, Rutledge received one basket each from Karlei Hodge and Cierstin Phifer as the Lady Pioneers fell behind 13-4 at the end of the buzzer.
However, the Lady Pioneer defense tightened up and allowed only five points in the second quarter while earning two deuces and a trey from Suzanne Barker, a basket and a free throw from Alyvia Sneed and a free throw from Lydia Foster to cut the Greeneville lead to 18-15 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Lady Pioneers once again held the Lady Devils to five points and cut Greeneville’s lead to one point as Marly Tanner tossed in three baskets and Sneed added a free throw. The game went into the final six minutes of play with Greeneville holding onto a 23-22 lead. In the final quarter, the defense continued its outstanding play by allowing only three points while Halli Stuffle knocked down five free throws and a trey. Phifer connected on a pair of deuces as the Lady Pioneers roared by the Lady Devils to move into the tournament championship with a sterling 34-26 come-back victory.
With her eight fourth-quarter points, Hallil Stuffle led the Rutledge scoring with eight points. She was followed by Suzanne Barker, who scored seven points in the second stanza, and Marly Tanner and Cierstin Phifer adding six points each. In addition, Alyvia Sneed scored four points, Karlei Hodge added two points and Lydia Foster earned a free throw.
Lady Pioneers 20, East Ridge 18
After defeating Rogersville Middle and Greeneville Middle School, the Lady Pioneers advanced to the championship game where a familiar Middle Eight Conference team, the East Ridge Lady Bears, awaited.
The outstanding defensive play from the last three quarters of the semifinal game continued into the championship game. Rutledge held the Lady Bears to four points and took a 7-4 lead, after the first quarter, on a deuce and a trey from Halli Stuffle and a basket from Cierstin Phifer. In the second and third quarters, the Lady Pioneers did not allow a field goal.
They used two points each from Marly Tanner, Alyvia Sneed and Lydia Foster as well as a third-quarter basket from Phifer to hold a 15-9 lead going into the final quarter.
In most basketball games, the team that is losing is generally the one who commits the most fouls in the fourth quarter. That wasn’t the case in this game. The Lady Pioneers had only four foul shots for the game, all in the fourth quarter. East Ridge shot 21 foul shots in the game, with 13 foul shots coming in the final quarter. Luckily for the Lady Pioneers, East Ridge connected on only five free throws. Rutledge received a basket and a free throw from Tanner and a basket from Stuffle to hold on for a 20-18 win and the tournament championship.
Halli Stuffle, with seven points, led the Lady Pioneers in scoring. She was followed by Marly Tanner with five points, Cierstin Phifer with four points and two points each for Alyvia Sneed and Lydia Foster.