BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan Central’s defensive change at halftime did the trick Thursday night, resulting in a 66-61 Big 9 Conference girls basketball win over Sullivan East.
Central trailed 38-37 at intermission.
Kelsey Trivett had been giving the Lady Cougars problems with her outside shooting. Central coach Gary Surcey decided to keep a closer eye on her.
“We went to a zone in the second half and rolled it toward Trivett,’’ Surcey said. “We concentrated more on knowing where she was at all times.’’
Whitney Moody, a 5-foot-9 junior point guard, led the charge for Central both offensively and defensively.
She spearheaded a defense that took the ball away from East several times and also forced several jump balls.
Moody finished with 22 points — eight more than her average — and fellow guard Brittany Fields followed with 19.
In a span of just three minutes in the second quarter, Moody fired in 11 points. But it was late in the game when her court awareness really became obvious.
Despite trying to avoid fouling out, she took care of the ball in the last two minutes. Her three free throws in the final seven seconds sealed the win.
“Whitney is so quick,’’ Surcey said. “She stepped up for us, stole the ball and drove. Brittany also played well. Erika Blizzard started slowly but after our talk with her at halftime, she helped out near the end.’’
Blizzard added 10 points, giving Central (5-6, 2-3) three players in double figures.
Central opened an instant 5-0 lead but East broke on top 12-7.
“We fouled a lot in the first half, put East’s shooters on the free throw line and they hit the shots,’’ Surcey said. “We fought hard to get back in it, regained the lead but relaxed a bit and allowed East to go ahead again.’’
The outcome was hanging in the balance until Moody sank those clutch free throws.
Central led 51-45 starting the final quarter but Rachel Hamilton’s 3-point goal closed the gap. Breean Sabo’s layup stretched the Cougars’ lead to 53-48.
At this juncture, East got a jumper from Kayla Evans and Trivett sank her fifth 3-point goal of the night.
Moody, on the bench with four personal fouls, returned and enabled Central to pull away briefly. But East’s Lindsay Laudermilk hit a trey and then converted a three-point layup to get the margin down to 61-59 with 2:19 remaining. Trivett tied the game 61-61 with two free throws at 1:41.
That was East’s last hurrah. Blizzard dropped in two free throws and Moody came through with three more to close the scoring.
Trivett finished with 19 points, Laudermilk scored 17 and Sarah Barham got 11 for the Lady Patriots.
East (3-11, 0-6) platooned its players. Fourteen got in the game and nine contributed to the scoring column.
The Lady Cougars will host Tennessee High tonight. Central’s boys also will be in action.