Boiling point: Alcoa can’t fight frustrating CAK
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
STRAWBERRY PLAINS — Katie Stubblefield just threw up her hands after one of her four fouls. Tiffanie Moore could only shrug after one of her five.
The frustration was just too much for Tonia Johnson’s Alcoa Lady Tornadoes Wednesday night at Carter High School.
Tournament MVP Anna Hammaker led all scorers with 20 points, Kaycee Heitzman added 17 and Cheyenne Moore scored 16 as top-seeded Christian Academy of Knoxville ran away with a 62-44 win in the second half over No. 2 Alcoa in the Region 2-AA championship.
Bigger than Cheyenne Moore’s 16 points, though, was the amount of fouls the towering 6-foot-5 CAK center drew on Alcoa, as the Lady Warriors continually went inside where they had the distinct height advantage.
“They were extremely frustrated,” Johnson said of her team after the emotional loss. “They were frustrated because I think they were playing hard and they weren’t getting calls.”
Katie Stubblefield, slowed by her four fouls, led Alcoa (21-11) with 15 points. Hannah Tate added 11 and Tiffanie Moore managed 9 before fouling out late in the contest.
Alcoa will travel to Elizabethton (25-4) — winner of the Region 1-AAA tournament after handing Grainger its first loss of the season on Wednesday night — in the sectional round Saturday night at 7 p.m.
CAK (23-7) will host Grainer (32-1). Winners from each sectional game will advance to the state tournament in Murfreesboro.
Alcoa’s frustration boiled over Wednesday night with 44 seconds left before halftime and CAK holding to a 23-22 lead off of a Cheyenne Moore bucket in the paint.
Tiffanie Moore got tangled up with Kelsey Naler under the bucket off an Alcoa miss, resulting in her second foul of the night.
An altercation ensued between Moore and Naler after the foul and Moore was hit with a technical, her third foul.
CAK made four-straight free throws off of the called foul and technical issued against Moore, building the lead to 27-22 at the break.
Johnson said she used the intermission to calm her team down.
“At that point you try to settle them down,” Johnson said, “focus on what they need to be focused on, instead the mistakes that happened.”
Alcoa came out of the locker room with that renewed focus. Stubblefield single-handedly sparked a 7-2 Lady T’s run to trim a 31-25 deficit down to 33-31.
But, like it had much of the night, CAK had an answer while Alcoa couldn’t find an answer to the size advantage.
The Lady Warriors closed the quarter with a 12-0 run, getting points from four different players, to take a 45-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
Stubblefield scored all of Alcoa’s 9 third-quarter points in the opening minutes of the frame, but that’s when shots stopped falling for the Lady T’s.
Alcoa finished 30 percent from the floor, making 17 of 55 shots
Stubblefield picked up her third foul with 7:10 left in the third quarter and her fourth just 38 seconds later to put CAK in the bonus.
Alcoa was called for 12 fouls in the first half, to CAK’s four. CAK had three fouls when it went to the bonus after Alcoa’s sixth in the second half.
“They were getting hit,” Johnson said of her team, “and there was no return on that.”
Alcoa beat CAK 42-32 on Jan. 15, the two district rivals’ first meeting. It’s been all CAK since, with the Lady Warriors winning the last three meetings.
Cheyenne Moore came off the bench in last week’s District 4-AA championship game, finishing with 15 points and 15 rebounds in a 50-41 CAK win.
Alcoa jumped out to a 7-0 lead Wednesday night, but CAK responded with an 8-1 run that eventually helped the Lady Warriors to tie the game at 16-all after the first quarter.
Johnson said her team had to forget about the loss and get ready for a sectional game where a state tournament berth will be on the line.
“We just have to be focused for another game. This one is done, can’t dwell on it. We have to prepare for another ball game.”