Girls’ teams get chance to knock the rust off
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
Thursday night at Heritage High School wasn’t as much about the scoreboard as it was about knocking the rust off. It wasn’t as much about playing mistake free as it was getting the jitters out. And it was more about making sure the jerseys fit right than making sure the right rotations are set.
Maryville, Alcoa, William Blount and Heritage did a little bit of all that in the Blount County Jamboree inside a packed Heritage gym.
“It’s just a tuneup, to get all the nerves out, jitters,” Heritage girls coach Rick Howard told The Daily Times. “Let everybody play and have fun.”
“This might be the biggest crowd we play in front of all year,” Maryville coach Scott West added. “It’s just good to get the jerseys on and have a little fun.”
West’s Lady Rebels topped Alcoa 18-10 in the first quarter of the all-girls first half of the four-team jamboree while Howard’s Lady Mountaineers settled for a 12-12 tie with rival William Blount.
“It’s always fun to let everybody get to play in front of a big crowd,” Howard said. “I think the younger ones get more nervous than the older ones.”
Ami Hartline’s field goal late in the second quarter gave Heritage a 12-7 lead, but a field goal from Willaim Blount’s Abbie Burchfield, a foul shot from Jordan Johnson and another field goal from Jade Delozier rallied the Lady Govs to the 12-all tie.
“It’s always going to be a little choppy, just because we got everybody out there, everybody played,” first-year William Blount coach Todd Wright, who substituted in sets of five throughout his team’s quarter, said after his team’s tie.
“There’s not really any kind of set rotation tonight, we just wanted to get everybody out there and get them some minutes, get them some action.”
Haley Talbott gave William Blount a 2-0 lead to start the quarter before field goals from Kathryn Pryor and Leah Thomas helped Heritage tie it up.
WB’s Shelby Spradlin broke a 4-all tie with a 3-pointer for a 7-4 lead with 4:35 left in the quarter.
“A lot of the girls playing for us haven’t had a lot of varsity minutes,” Wright said. “We wanted to get them out there in front of a crowd with their real uniforms on and we got that out of our systems.”
There was no lack of physicality between the two rivals, either.
“It was a foul fest,” Howard said. “For a 10 minute quarter, I think there were 20 fouls.
“Of course anytime William Blount and Heritage mix it up, it’s going to be like that.”
Maryville 18, Alcoa 10: Alcoa jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Katie Stubblefield’s jumper, but Maryville took over from there.
The Lady Rebels scored the quarter’s final nine points to stretch what was a 9-8 lead midway through the 10-minute frame into an 18-10 win.
“Some of those younger kids got out there and played the majority of the minutes,” West said.
Paxton Robinette and Leila Bangash each had four points to lead Maryville. Karin Hamaguchi and Kayla Tillie had three each.
Cassidy Anderson led Alcoa with three. Stubblefield, Abby Cupp and Lauren Dunn each had two.
Like Wiliam Blount and Heritage, both Maryville and Alcoa used the quarter to get playing time up and down the roster.
“We were going to play a lot of people, not do a whole lot,” West said. “Just put the jerseys on and have a crowd.”
Big Stage: With all four teams in one gym, the crowd was one of the biggest any of the teams will play in front of this year, making for a good stage to work out the jitters and calm the nerves before the games that count begin tipping off next week.
“You could definitely see the nerves out there tonight,” Wright said. “But it’s like that for all the teams.
“You hope that’s what it does, take that edge off. Then when you lace them up for real, you know that you don’t have to worry about that as much.”
For Howard’s Heritage team, the quarter served as a coaching tool, even if it was only a brief 10 minutes of game action.
“You can always correct things,” Howard said. “Just like getting up and down the floor. You just got to go back tomorrow and correct it.”