By TREY WILLIAMS
Christmas break, you might say, flu by for coach Tony Gordon and his David Crockett’s girls basketball team.
Six players and two coaches, including Gordon, missed games and/or practice due to the flu and a stomach virus. Gordon said he lost 15 pounds in two weeks and didn’t sleep for 38 straight hours. His daughter Kasey, a Crockett assistant, missed two games in Florida while sick at the hotel.
But the Pioneers were seemingly no worse for wear in the second half at home against Sullivan South on Friday, and they overcame an 11-point second half deficit to defeat the Rebels, 53-51.
“We had six confirmed flu cases on our varsity,” Gordon said. “I hadn’t had a full team or a full practice since about a week before Christmas. … It’s like trying to be MacGyver and put it together with dental floss and duct tape.”
Crockett sputtered in the first half against South and still trailed by seven entering the fourth quarter. But Halle Scott’s steal and layup tied the score, 43-43, with some 5 1/2 minutes remaining, Zoe Sanders’ trey gave Crockett a 46-43 lead and the Pioneers remained relatively composed against South’s pressure down the stretch.
“We only turned it over nine times,” Gordon said. “That’s probably the least we’ve had since I’ve been there. That’s huge when they were pressing. I thought we did an excellent job going through their press in the first and second half. …
“Halle had a big steal and a layup, and then a big three. Zoe hit another huge three.”
It was a gut-check win as far as Gordon was concerned.
“It was an excellent win,” he said. “For whatever reason, the last two years we have just not matched up well against them. It’s because they’ve got a really good team and they’re a veteran team now. I think they started five seniors.
“We kind of slept-walked through the first half and then we kind of challenged ‘em without raising my voice, and our kids showed their toughness and came out and decided they wanted to take the fight to them. We were able to do enough defensively and make some shots.”
Emma Gouge scored 15 points and Scott added 10. Mackenzie Baldwin led the way on the boards.
“Mackenzie Baldwin had double figures in rebounding,” Gordon said. “She’s very undersized in there. But she goes and gives us double figures in rebounding. She’s always where she’s supposed to be. I can’t keep her off the floor. I don’t look at numbers. I just know what she does. And she does it consistently without fanfare.
“Mack is great. She doesn’t look to score. I wish she would, because she can. I took her out Friday night because she passed up a couple of shots. She can shoot and she can take that shot out to the 3-point line.”
Gouge and Scott are leading the Pioneers in scoring. Baldwin is the rebounding leader and Gordon said Scott is almost certainly leading the team in assists.
“Halle’s been a bulldog all year,” he said. “She kind of got us going against South. … Halle’s been so improved. She’s the toughest defender on the ball in the league. I don’t see anyone any better.”
Crockett will host preseason favorite Science Hill on Friday.
“Science Hill has played an incredibly hard schedule,” Gordon said. “They’ve got so many weapons.”
But it’s nice to at least feel well about an extremely difficult matchup.
“I’d never had the flu,” Gordon said. “I know I’ve had it now. … These girls are a tough bunch, because it looked like they we were left for dead at halftime against South. I coach ‘em hard and they don’t flinch. They continue to impress me and amaze me with their toughness.”
Daniel Boone entered Tuesday’s home game against Science Hill with a 9-4 record after losing two of three games in Cleveland last week. The Trailblazers defeated Memphis Fairley, 53-44, before falling to Siegel (78-53) and losing in overtime against Sipsey Valley, Alabama (61-57).
“Those are three very athletic teams,” Boone coach Chris Brown said. “Sipsey Valley was ranked in the top 10 in the state of Alabama and Siegel was very good. It was a good building block heading into the week with Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett.”
Jared Adkins is averaging approximately 17 points and four assists for Boone. Cade Norris is averaging 13.5 points and three assists. Colby Backus is averaging 8.8 points and six rebounds.
The Daniel Boone girls lost 55-53 to Pickett County in the semifinals of the Winterfest Shootout at Sevier County on Monday, December 30.
Jaycie Jenkins scored 13 of her 19 points, including all three of her 3-pointers, in the first quarter. Madi Runnels scored 11 of her 15 and all three of her treys in the second half. McKenna Dietz added nine points, all from 3-point range.
The David Crockett boys improved to 11-4 with a 50-47 home win against a good Sullivan South team on Friday. It was the second win for the Pioneers in three meetings with the Rebels this season.
Sophomore point guard Dawson Wagner led Crockett with 14 points. Junior swing man Mason Britton (12) and senior guard Mack Hensley (11) also scored in double figures.
The Pioneers will host Science Hill on Friday.