BLOUNTVILLE — Nathan Vannoy and Taylor Winchell combined to put 46 points on the board against Sullivan South’s basketball team Tuesday night.
The duo fueled a 16-1 second-half surge that gave Sullivan Central control of the game and led to a much-needed 63-53 Big 8 Conference victory for the homestanding Cougars.
Central trailed the entire way until Winchell glided along the baseline and dropped in a layup with 2:38 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 38.
Vannoy pulled up from 17 feet and knocked down a jumper less than a minute later to give the Cougars the lead for good.
Winchell finished up with 17 points, most of those coming before he picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter. Vannoy took it from there, scoring 13 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter to close out the Rebels. The 6-foot-4 senior connected on 11 of 12 free throw attempts in the frame to keep the game out of reach.
As far as South coach Mark Pendleton was concerned, Winchell’s second-chance points and Vannoy’s success at the foul line illustrated where things went wrong for the Rebels.
“Winchell had a good night on the boards and Vannoy hit 15 free throws,” Pendleton said. “Those free tosses put a hurting on you. If you don’t defend and rebound, you’re not going to win.
“In the third and fourth quarters, for whatever reason, we decided not to box out and not to defend.”
It was a different story early on. South jumped out to an 11-3 lead as Logan Blair dominated the paint on both ends. Blair finished the first half with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.
Meanwhile, Winchell and Vannoy were held in check for the first eight minutes. Winchell had two points and Vannoy one as the Cougars struggled to score eight points as a team in the opening period.
Central coach Tony Vaughn thought Blair’s imposing presence had a lot to do with that.
“We were intimidated, changing our shots,” Vaughn said. “I told them that the worst thing that can happen is that he can block your shot and you have a 50-50 chance of getting it back. Eventually, he’ll get in foul trouble and have to back off.”
The Cougars got more aggressive in the paint before halftime as Winchell and Vannoy combined for 16 of Central’s 18 second-quarter points.
The momentum carried over into the second half. The Cougars (7-12, 2-7) outscored South (11-8, 6-4) 17-9 in the third quarter and never looked back.
Andrew Pickwell led South with 15 points while Blair scored 14 and Tyler Moore added 12.
The Lady Cougars also used a big third quarter to pick up a 62-59 win over the Lady Rebels.
Central outscored South 18-8 in the crucial frame thanks to a switch on defense.
“We went to a 1-3-1 in the third and it helped us some,” Central coach Gary Surcey said. “The press worked early, the 1-3-1 worked in the third, and we made our free throws.”
Erika Blizard scored 14 of her 21 points in the second half to lead Central (14-7, 6-3). Kim Wood added 15 and Madi Phillippie scored 13.
Jacqueline Kestner scored 10 points for the Lady Cougars in her first game back from a hip flexor injury.
Kim Johnson scored 21 points to pace South (6-9, 3-7). Abbey Fletcher had 12 and Tyria Hutchins added 11.
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