Gardner's girls oust Knights, Tuscola boys fend off Franklin
When junior forward Mariah Huskey went down Tuesday evening with a knee injury in the Tuscola girls’ basketball regular season finale, head coach Ann Gardner told her squad to step up their game if they wanted to advance in the upcoming WNC Athletic Conference Tournament.
Her message was received and understood as four Mountaineers finished in double figures in No. 4 Tuscola’s 58-45 victory over No. 5 North Henderson in a first round Friday evening in the Tuscola gym.
After a sluggish start, Tuscola trailed the Knights at the end of the first quarter 12-10.
That’s when junior guard Kourtney Krege stepped up and sparked the Mountaineers with an impressive performance at both ends of the court.
Her teammates followed her lead and surged ahead of the Knights and carried a 26-21 lead into halftime.
Tuscola continued to play inspired basketball in the third quarter and led 43-29 going into the final period.
However, North Henderson Head Coach Sue Moon’s Knights did not fold and made a couple of runs at Tuscola’s lead, but could not seriously challenge the Mountaineers in the final eight minutes.
Krege, who scored a season high 12 points in the victory, was awarded WPTL’s Most Valuable Player Award for her efforts.
“Since Mariah was out, I knew I was going to have to pick up the intensity because they were going to try their best to take Shelby (Glance) away,” said Krege. “So coach Gardner told me to come out and just be ready to score while everybody else was being guarded.”
Joining Krege in the scoring parade were Shelby Glance, who had a double-double with game-highs 16 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Faith Robinson had another solid night in the paint with 14 points and sophomore Cierra Jackson contributed 10 points.
Senior Keturah Bryson (4 points) and Ashlynd Young-Scavatto (2 points) rounded out the point production for the Mountaineers.
North Henderson managed to put three Knights in double figures with Karlee Honeycutt scoring a team-high 14 points, while Caroline Marsh and Teegan Bullock scored 10 points each.
Gardner’s girls improved to 14-11 overall and advance to play No. 1 seed Smoky Mountain at 4 p.m. in the tournament’s semifinals Tuesday in Mills River in the West Henderson gym.
North Henderson dropped to 11-14.
Boys First Round
Tuscola 91, Franklin 86
It’s difficult to beat a team three times in the same season and even more difficult to beat the same team twice in one week.
The No. 3 seed Tuscola varsity boys basketball team got a dose of that reality when they met the Franklin Panthers for the third time this season and the second time in three days in the first round of the WNCAC Basketball Tournament Friday evening in the Tuscola gym.
In the first two meetings, the Mountaineers came away with relatively comfortable victories over the Panthers, including the regular season finale on Tuesday.
In Friday’s first round game, there was nothing comfortable about Tuscola’s 91-86 victory as the pesky Panthers refused to play the Mountaineers’ patsy.
Tuscola (16-9) will advance to the second round of the WNCAC Tournament to play arch-rival and No. 2 seed Pisgah in the semifinals Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. in Mills River at West Henderson High School gym.
Against the Panthers, twice in the second half the Mountaineers jumped out to leads of 20 points only to watch the Franklin Panthers claw back into the game and whittle the Tuscola lead down to single digits.
In its one final push to pull an upset in the fourth quarter, Franklin employed a full-court press that rattled the Mountaineers and created numerous turnovers.
But it was the Tuscola defense and not the offense that held its ground and denied a weary Franklin squad’s rally.
Tuscola sophomore Landon Henley had a stellar night again with a game-high 29 points, while 13 of those points came in the decisive fourth quarter. Senior Anthony Westhusing pumped in 10 of his 21 points also in the final eight minutes.
Other Mountaineers logging their names in the scorebook were Brooks Wilson, who contributed a solid 17 points from the floor. Lane Kervin scored 10 points, Jack Sutton had six, Colby McFalls and Grayson Perkins finished with four points each.
Franklin’s Tyler Harrell had a team-high 24 points, Zach De La Cruz and Cole Dolittle hit double figures with 17 and 16 points, respectively.