Youth trumps senior moments: Lady Govs get reward if not the win
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
The Lady Govs got what they wanted on senior night even if William Blount lost in the end.
Despite an injury bug potent enough to draw blood from a turnip, the Lady Govs were able to put both active seniors on the floor for the Senior Night start Thursday and offer the third the chance. And while visiting Alcoa spoiled the ending, taking a 57-45 victory in Marvin L. Boring Memorial Gymnasium, it was still a good night for WB with Katie Pyle and Kristin McGill on the floor together.
“Katie’s been out for two months with a broken collar bone, yesterday was her first practice in two months and she managed to start on her senior night. That was our goal. We’d talked about being able to get her healthy by tonight. You could see her stamina was low but she did some nice things and made some shots,” Lady Govs coach Todd Wright told The Daily Times. “Kristin’s been in and out of the starting line up all season and made some big buckets for us early.”
Jamie Click only took the floor during timeouts as part of the coaching staff that gathered in the huddles. That wasn’t Click’s original plan for her senior season, but it’s a decision she stuck by to the end after a series of knee injuries and the following surgeries.
“I did ask her a few days ago if she wanted me to put her out there for one play. She thought about it over a night and came back the next day and was a little emotional and said, ‘coach, I can’t. You put me out there for one play and I won’t want to come out and I just can’t do it,’” Wright related of the decision of his point guard turned assistant. “She’s meant a lot to this program and you hate to see a good player like that miss out with the injuries she’s had. She wants to be a coach, she was like a coach on the floor and with her on the bench it really is like almost having three assistants.
“They all three have contributed and being the first-year coach, those seniors are so important to you and I’m glad to have coached them and been a part of their careers here at William Blount.”
Alcoa wasn’t all the respectful of the WB seniors and after riding out he emotional rush of the start took a 7-point margin into the second quarter. The Lady Govs (13-16) played catch-and-release the rest of the way, rallying back to tie or lead by a bucket, then watching the Lady T’s scamper off on another run. Alcoa (16-9) found the big 3 when it needed it, sinking eight from behind the arc, with one falling home to stall every William Blount rally and make the final push.
“We knew that’s what they could do. They didn’t shoot layups, they kicked out and hit 3s. I felt good about it though, every time they’d pull away by 5 or 6, we’d come right back,” Wright said. “They’d go back out, we’d come right back. The last time, we got it back to 5 but ran out of gas a little bit. We played hard but we didn’t execute they way we needed to win this game.”
Hannah Troutt knocked down the last of the Tornado long balls for a 49-41 lead that allowed the visitors to work the clock the final 2:59 with long possessions. Troutt’s shot was the reward for Tara Shields, who banged home a timely triple per quarter, finishing with a game-high 15 on a night the first years led the scoring. The freshman put Alcoa up 19-13, retook the lead on a bomb that made it 22-20 in the second, dropped in a third to answer Sam Henry’s in the third and make it 29-27, then turned the last Alcoa run decisive with her last.
“Once again I think the young ones, especially Tara, just had razor sharp focus to put in the hole when they had to,” Alcoa coach Tonia Johnson said as the Lady T’s hit the stretch run tuning up for the District 4-AA tournament. “I think any game can help us, we are young and still get in situations where we do things because we don’t know better. Anytime you can play against a different style of ball it only helps you get better.”
Tiffanie Moore added 13 for the lady Tornadoes and Kayla Newman chipped in a dozen. WB was paced by freshman Lindsey Roddy’s 13 with sophomore Amber Click adding 9.
WB finds out it’s next opponent today when the district meets to set the 4-AAA tournament bracket where the Lady Govs are the fourth seed. Alcoa travels to Maryville tonight in another nondistrict but pride filled affair before a final district make up game with Scott on Monday.
ALCOA 57, WILLIAM BLOUNT 45
A 19 7 13 18 — 57
WB 12 12 9 12 — 45
ALCOA (16-9)— Katie Stubblefield 5, Tara Shields 15, Tiffanie Moore 13, Kayla Newman 12, Hannah Troutt 7, Hannah Tate 5.
WILLIAM BLOUNT (13-16)— Lindsey Roddy 13, Mikayla Combs 4, Amber Click 9, Sam Henry 5, Katie Pyle 4, Shelley Spradlin 4, Kristin McGill 4, Ami Hartline 2.
3-POINTERS— A 8 (Sheilds 5, Stubblefield, Moore, Troutt); WB 2 (Click, Henry). COLOR GUARD— WB JROTC Justin Martin, Jessica Wilder, Emily Easterling, Travis Sherman, Jacob Walkter.