Tellico Plains hosted its second rivalry showdown in as many nights on Friday as Sweetwater traveled down Highway 68 to tangle with the Bears and Lady Bears.
No. 7 TELLICO PLAINS LADY BEARS 66, SWEETWATER LADY CATS 43
Tellico Plains leaned on defense Friday night and displayed an offense that was clicking on all cylinders once again as the Lady Bears took down Sweetwater for the second time this season. Chloe Yearwood set a new defensive standard for Tellico Plains, breaking a 34-year-old school record with 119 steals on the season.
The Lady Bears’ defensive effort held Sweetwater without a field goal until the 3:33 mark of the first quarter, and Tellico capitalized on the scoring drought to take a big lead.
“I thought my offense was better tonight than it’s been in probably two weeks, so I’m pleased,” Tellico Plains coach Gary Tucker said. “It’s crucial that (Russell and Yearwood) show up offensively. I know that they work hard, but my guards have got to show up because they’ve carried us all year long.”
Jaden Hollinghead opened with a 3-pointer and Samantha Russell quickly followed suit for a 6-1 lead. Russell and Chloe Yearwood each added two baskets apiece before Kassedy McCool sank the first basket of the day for the Lady Cats. McCool followed her first shot with a 3-pointer, but Callie Kirkpatrick answered from long range for Tellico Plains and the Lady Bears led 21-9 after one quarter.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second period. McCool hit back-to-back 3-pointers, but Yearwood did as well on the Tellico end of the floor. After a Shelby Watson steal-and-score, the Lady Bears buckled down and unleashed a 10-0 run behind back-to-back treys by Callie Kirkpatrick and baskets by Yearwood and Alayna Hensley. The run helped the Lady Bears to a 41-24 lead at the break.
Tellico opened the second half with a Samantha Russell 3-pointer and raced to a 7-1 start before Mikalee Martin stopped the surge with a layup. Watson and Martin then hit 3-pointers back-to-back and Watson added another basket to help cut down the lead. Tellico continued to score, however, via baskets from Russell and Hollinghead, and led 58-35 after three quarters.
The Lady Bears made 4-of-6 from the free throw line to close the game out in the final stanza, having built an insurmountable lead.
Russell led Tellico Plains with 24, and Yearwood had 20. Kirkpatrick added 11. Watson topped the Sweetwater score sheet with 12 while McCool and Martin poured in 11.
SWEETWATER WILDCATS 74, TELLICO PLAINS BEARS 55
From the start, the Wildcats pounced on the Bears and left them reeling, pulling down the rivalry win and season sweep.
“Yeah, I am (happy with the performance),” Sweetwater coach Brent Burns said. “But we have to get better on defense. We’re too busy trying to steal the ball instead of just staying in front and guarding our man. So we’ve got to get back to playing better defense. We got in foul trouble early, but that’s going to happen. We’ve just got to play through it like we have all year. But I’m happy with the effort, in the second half especially.”
After a fairly even first few minutes, Sweetwater made its move. After a tie at 7-all, an 8-0 run paced by baskets from Dominique and Meechie Oggs created some separation for the Wildcats, and they would never trail again. Meechie Oggs picked up his second foul in the first quarter and took a seat on the bench, but his teammates picked up the pace in his absence.
Ethan Holley sank back-to-back buckets and Dominique Oggs slammed home a dunk off an inbounds pass to make the score 19-11 after one quarter.
Tellico got scoring from Logan Tallent and Jacob Brinkley to start the second quarter, but big man Dakota Shaw quickly picked up his third foul of the first half. Kolbe Billingsley took advantage of his absence inside and scored at the rim, pushing the Sweetwater lead out to 13.
Tellico Plains had some fight left, however. Jesse Lambert and Piper Carter combined for 8 points in the final minutes to cut the Wildcat lead down to 32-25 at halftime.
Out of the break, the two teams traded baskets, but 3-pointers from Dominique Oggs and Billingsley helped Sweetwater inch ahead. A 3-point play by Meechie Oggs was answered on the other end by Lambert, who scored 8 straight points for Tellico Plains. Meanwhile, however, Sweetwater was hitting shots too, and a 3-pointer by Drew Hicks helped the Wildcats maintain a big lead heading to the fourth quarter.
“(Hicks) is going to bring energy and he’s going to bring a spark,” Burns said. “He comes off the bench and he goes at it. He goes hard. Anytime he comes in he brings the energy. And he plays good defense and for the size he is, he’s pretty good on the boards too.”
Dominique and Meechie Oggs combined for 14 points in the fourth quarter and Hicks added another trey to counter baskets by Shaw, Crace, and Dale Rinehart. A dunk by Dominique Oggs basically summed up the game for the Wildcats as they marched to a big win over their cross-county rivals.