There’s a reason the Tellico Plains Junior High School girls basketball team has had so much recent success.
It’s a formula that not only led the Lady Bears to a successful regular season, but also to a first-place finish in the Monroe County Middle School Basketball Tournament over the weekend. Tellico went 2-0 in the tourney on its way to the title.
“(We’ve performed well) mainly because we worked so hard defensively,” TPJHS head girls basketball coach Don Swanson said. “We give 100% effort all the time. It’s like I tell them, ‘Shooting is just secondary. We’re going to make shots eventually … just keep getting stops.’”
Lexy Moore was named the tournament’s MVP. Megan Ladd, Dana Harmon, Emory Edmonds, Samantha Robbins, Hannah Dalton, Taylor Rose, Darrah Wiseman, Karina Bystry and Karley Roberts also made the All-Tournament Girls Team.
Rural Vale 42, Madisonville 19
In the first game of the tournament, Rural Vale’s girls made it look easy.
The Lady Panthers took quick control with an 11-2 end-of-first-quarter lead, then followed that up by using strong 3-point shooting to hold a 24-8 advantage by halftime.
Rural Vale continued that trend through the rest of the game, turning a 32-14 lead to start the fourth quarter into the 42-19 victory. The win gave the Lady Panthers a berth in Saturday’s championship round.
Samantha Robbins was Rural Vale’s leading scorer with 14 points, followed by Hannah Dalton’s 10. For Madisonville, Dana Harmon was first with six points, and Ella Debity had five.
Tellico Plains 38, Vonore 6
The Lady Cubs also found an easy path to victory on Friday.
Tellico went out to a quick lead against Vonore, as Karina Bystry nailed a 3-pointer just seconds into the game. The Lady Cubs scored 11 points during the first 1:10 to lead 20-2 heading into the second quarter.
Tellico’s smothering defense grabbed multiple steals to enter the halftime break ahead, 28-4, and it was all Lady Cubs in the final two quarters, with the host team leading 35-5 by the end of the third on its way to the 38-6 win.
Debity had 15 points to lead Tellico, and Lexy Moore had eight. Mysterie Shubert, Megan Ladd and Lily Cathcart all scored two points each for Vonore.
Madisonville 47, Vonore 21
A strong showing by the Lady Eagles in Saturday’s consolation game clinched Madisonville a third-place tournament finish.
Madisonville led 10-5 at the conclusion of the first quarter, but Vonore stayed in the game, trailing by just six points, 18-12, at halftime.
The Lady Blue Devils couldn’t keep pace with the Lady Eagles for long, though, as a 3-pointer by Dana Harmon pushed Madisonville to a double-digit lead in the third period.
The Lady Eagles led 38-19 heading into the fourth quarter before sealing the 47-21 victory during the game’s final stanza.
Tellico Plains 31, Rural Vale 14
Tellico capped off its title run with a dominating victory over Rural Vale in the championship game on Saturday.
Both teams opened the game playing tough defense, with Karina Bystry and Darrah Wiseman pacing Tellico. The Lady Bears finished the first quarter ahead, 12-4, and played to a 15-8 lead by halftime.
Tellico’s defense kept the pressure on Rural Vale in the second half, coming up with multiple steals and extending its advantage to 22-11 by the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Panthers committed a large number of fouls in the fourth period as the Lady Eagles polished off their 31-14 victory for the tournament title.
Bystry led Tellico with 12 points, while Lexy Moore notched nine. Hannah Dalton was Rural Vale’s leading scorer, tallying six points.
“It gets us ready for next week again when we go down there and play in the SMAC (tournament),” Swanson said. “That just sets you a little higher because that’s a big rivalry. That’s what makes it even better. That’s my pastor coaching the other team.”
“We won it last year and that’s going to motivate us to win it again this year,” Swanson added. “They’ll be ready.”