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Central girls, Tennessee High boys win in OT Big 8 games

Bill Lane • Dec 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — There was no shortage of excitement inside the Dickie Warren Dome on Monday night. Two overtime games had fans on the edge of their seats from opening tipoff to final horn.

Tennessee High’s boys — thanks to a second-half bombardment by sharp-shooting Austin Easterling — defeated Sullivan Central 67-56 in an extra session.

Central’s Lady Cougars won the preliminary over Tennessee High 49-47 with a miraculous comeback. Jacqueline Kestner provided the big fireworks for Central.

Matt Harmon sent Central’s boys game into overtime by sinking two free throws for a 56-56 tie with 1.4 seconds left to play. The Cougars (4-6, 1-3 Big 8 Conference) went cold in overtime, however, and Easterling and Austin Stacey flexed their basketball muscles for the Vikings (7-3, 2-1).

Easterling, deadly from 22 feet, got his entire output of five 3-point goals in the second half. He finished with 15 points, two fewer than Stacey hit. Ryan Matheson followed with 12.

With Central’s Nathan Vannoy experiencing an off night, the slack was taken up by Harmon with 17 points and Zane Kilby and Taylor Winchell with 12 each. Winchell pulled down 13 rebounds.

“The effort was there and I can’t fault our kids for that,’’ Central coach Tony Vaughn said. “We’re not very smart sometimes as far as basketball knowledge goes.

“We didn’t box out. We turned the ball over at crucial times. Little things are hurting us right now. But we can’t afford to get down because there’s still too much season left. We’ve just got to execute and see that our knowledge of the game gets better.’’

Kestner simply carried the Lady Cougars on her shoulders. She put up 18 points to lead all scorers in the game and stayed busy collecting rebounds and recoveries, handling the ball and playing aggressive defense.

“That’s the kind of game you expect Jacqueline to play,’’ Central coach Gary Surcey said. “She penetrates and creates shots.’’

Surcey said the Lady Cougars could have folded their tent when 13 points down with 4½ minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Instead, they buckled down and forced OT.

“You never have doubts that you’re going to win a game,’’ he said. “However, you do realize that you must get a break for things to go your way. This happened for us, and it snowballed.’’

Tennessee High’s Blakeley Burleson, who’d made three treys, turned loose a midcourt shot that went in at the final buzzer. It would have given the Lady Vikings a victory, but officials ruled the ball hadn’t been released before time expired.

“It was close but dropped in after the whistle,’’ Surcey said.

Erika Blizard trailed Kestner in scoring for the Lady Cougars with 10.

Central (9-2, 3-1) was behind 40-27 when it began to make a relentless charge. THS (6-4, 1-2) missed a last-second shot in regulation and Kestner rebounded with the score tied 44-44.

High scorers for the Bristolians were Rachel Honeycutt with 15, Ice Brown with 12 and Burleson with 10.

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