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Lady Cougars, Tennessee High boys pad Big 7 résumés

JIMMY MOORE, TriCitiesSports.com • Jan 11, 2017 at 12:46 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A pair of strong Big 7 battles resulted in a split decision inside the Dickie Warren Dome on Tuesday.

After the Sullivan Central girls turned back Tennessee High 52-46 in the night’s opener, the THS boys held the Cougars to single digits in the final three periods to pick up a 54-42 victory.

Central’s boys were able to hang close in the early going before the Vikings’ defense shut down the Cougars inside.

Tennessee High coach Roby Witcher’s team has won back-to-back conference road games.

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“We gave up 21 points in the first quarter and single digits in the other three quarters. It was really good for us to have that kind of effort,” Witcher noted. “The kids that came off the bench also contributed.

“I was fired up tonight. It was that kind of game.”

Michael Mays led the Vikings (8-7, 2-1) with 22 points. Christian Webb added 15 and Darius Eury had 10.

Central coach Derek McGhee said his players feel like they’re a 3-point shooting machine but when the shots aren’t going in the basket, they must see it’s crucial to find other ways to score.

“They refused to do that,” McGhee said. “Look what happens when we throw it inside to Jordan (Self, who finished with 18 points). They ran their little 2-3 zone and everybody knows it is coming, but our kids want to sit outside and jack up 3s. They are not going down, so you need to do something else.

“We talked about that at halftime ... I’ll find five that will listen to me and play them.

“These kids were picked to finish third in the conference but tonight they played like seventh,” the coach added.

Luke Hudson added 10 points for Central (8-8, 1-2) and Grayson Wright tossed in eight.

Coach Monica Hurd’s Lady Cougars (13-5, 2-1) won for the 11th time in their past 12 outings.

Hurd said she always put the team’s goals for the game on a board before taking the floor and against the Lady Vikings (8-8, 1-2) she wanted to keep turnovers to less than 10 and defend against the 3.

“We’ve been finding a way to win,” she said. “We just keep trying different things and you cannot fault them because they play hard with tough defense and they play aggressive.

“Tennessee High shoots the long ball, which results in long rebounds. I’ve got good rebounders, but we gave them too many second-chance shots,” Hurd added.

The Lady Cougars led 14-13 after the first quarter and 29-25 at halftime.

Tennessee High’s Makayla Richards, who closed out the first half with a 3-pointer, opened the third quarter with another 3 before adding a leaner to knot the score at 30.

Central countered with a 9-0 run. Taylor Sanders drained a free throw and added a layup off a steal. Sydney Hurd followed with a runner, Sara Madgett scored on a leaner and Meg Crawford added a runner to push the Lady Cougars’ lead to 38-30.

Central added its final five points at the foul line to seal the victory.

Hurd had 12 point to lead the Lady Cougars, followed closely by Meg Crawford with 11. Sanders added nine.

Erin Walker led the Lady Vikings with 15 points and Richards had 14.

“We’ve just got to get our kids to believe they can score for us,” Tennessee High coach Barry Wade said, “and right now we don’t have a whole lot of kids that believe they can score.”

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