CLINCHPORT — The Thomas Walker girls are in the Cumberland District hunt. The Rye Cove girls are hunting for answers.
In an endgame ad lib with no timeouts remaining, Katrina Isaacs found Jessica Burke open under the basket with three seconds to play, lifting the Lady Pioneers to a 57-56 victory at Rye Cove.
“We just kind of did that,” admitted Burke, who finished with 12 points.
In the varsity nightcap, a 5-for-10 showing at the free throw line over the final two minutes protected a 53-46 Cumberland District victory for the Pioneer boys.
The Thomas Walker girls’ win over Rye Cove was the biggest of this season for the Lady Pioneers (4-7, 2-0). It was also the biggest upset by the Ewing crew since beating the Lady Eagles in last year’s Cumberland District tournament.
“This helps them to see that we can do it. We’ve just got to take our time, be smart and never give up,” Thomas Walker coach Janet Nelson said.
Shasta Edwards scored 11 points to lead the Lady Eagles (6-5, 1-1) while Christi Hood, Michelle Hutchins and Shelli McDavid scored 10 points apiece.
Jennifer Burke led Thomas Walker with 18 points. Brandy Vass added 10.
Rye Cove was poised to take a 32-16 lead into intermission, but Courtney Moles knocked down a pair of uncontested treys during the final 39 seconds of the half.
“I told them at halftime that they didn’t know how big those 3s were. There was no sense in giving that up,” Rye Cove coach Jamie Carter said.
After letting the Lady Pioneers get within one point midway through the third quarter, Rye Cove exploded for a 12-2 run. But Thomas Walker refused to go away, again closing within a point on a 11-1 run that began with a Jennifer Burke trey at 3:19 in the fourth quarter and ended with another Burke trifecta at 1:58.
Thomas Walker burned its last timeout trailing 56-55 with 27 seconds remaining.
In the boys’ game, Dude Overton fired up 16 points to lead the Pioneers. Hagen Hensley scored 11 for Thomas Walker (9-2, 2-0) while Robbie Giles added seven.
The Eagles led 27-26 at the half thanks to Jacob Arwood’s buzzer-beating putback. Overton’s trey initiated scoring in the third quarter and put Thomas Walker out front for good — but never in complete comfort.
Allen Trent’s 3 with 1:11 left in the third made it 41-33. The eight-point margin was as good as it got.
“I don’t know what it is, but Rye Cove always play us hard whenever we come here,” Thomas Walker coach Chris Sutphin said. “It’s never easy.”
Post Blake Wyatt scored 17 to lead the Eagles (1-10, 0-2), cutting it to 50-46 when he took the ball to the hole with 39 seconds left to play. Blake Lawson added 13 points.
“Both teams played hard tonight. It was fun to watch,” Rye Cove coach Justin Seaver said. “It was good to see my boys come out here and compete with them.”