By TREY WILLIAMS
The Daniel Boone girls basketball team endured some rough sledding in December, but Bayleigh Carmichel and Jaycie Jenkins saved Christmas for first-year coach Beau Hauldren.
Carmichel and Jenkins scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, while propelling the Trailblazers to a 58-48 defeat of a solid Sullivan Central team on Dec. 20 at Snyder Gym. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak that was wearing on a coach that took over a state tournament team, albeit one replacing a point guard that’s at Belmont (Macie Culbertson) and a post now at Carson-Newman (Sydney Pearce).
“Central is a great opponent,” Hauldren said. “And we needed that one bad.”
Central was led by 6-foot-1 junior post Abbey Crawford, a Wofford commitment who tallied 24 points. Point guard Peyton Sams, who has been offered by UVa-Wise, added 14 points.
Crawford scored eight points in the opening 6:24, including two foul shots that gave Central a 12-4 lead with 1:36 left in the first quarter.
But Carmichel, who has signed with Trevecca Nazarene, made the first of three 3-pointers to ignite a 17-4 run and scored 11 points while helping Boone build a 21-20 halftime lead. She drove the baseline before assisting Stevens’ basket in the first quarter and hit back-to-back treys in a 20-second span during the second quarter.
“When (Carmichel) hit those threes, they were huge,” Jenkins said. “They finally got us going and we got hyped up.”
Jenkins, a junior point forward, grabbed the reins in the second half. She scored 12 points after intermission and made two straight jump-shots off the dribble in the fourth quarter to give the Trailblazers a 48-33 lead with 5:53 remaining.
“We were a little down where we’d lost a few in a row,” Jenkins said. “But we just talked about how we wanted to turn it around tonight and we wanted to play better, make our defense better, communicate better. And I think we did that tonight.”
Sullivan Central coach Kristi Walling was quick to commend Boone’s proven tandem.
“Bayleigh and Jenkins – obviously two really good players – had some good open looks,” Walling said. “And they hit their shots when they were open. … I feel like you had two good teams go against each other tonight and Daniel Boone just ended up the better team tonight.”
Providence Academy transfer Madi Runnels scored 12 points for Boone. Jenkins noted her production, as well as the contributions of Greyson Stevens and McKenna Dietz, who hadn’t played since middle school before Jenkins recruited her volleyball teammates to return to the basketball court.
“They’re all stepping up and playing a role,” Jenkins said.
Hauldren was happy to see the process he’s trusting get some on-court verification after losses to Morristown West, Science Hill and Gate City. Sullivan Central is better than at least one of those teams.
Boone extended its defensive pressure most of the game, and it paid dividends.
“We kind of got off pressuring a little bit – and this is my fault – and we really got back on it (against Central),” Hauldren said. “That was the message before the game. I think we did a good job with our full-court man-to-man and our three-quarters court 1-2-2.
“It was a quality win. They’re a really good team and I’m happy about this.”
Boone (10-5) opened the 30th annual Andrew Johnson Bank Ladies Classic on Dec. 26 with a 50-48 loss to Oak Ridge, the program it has split a pair of sectional matchups with the previous two seasons. Jade Guinn won it with a driving bank at the buzzer.
Jenkins and Runnels scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, against the Wildcats.
Boone bounced back the following day with an 80-25 win against West Greene. Jenkins scored 24 points and Carmichel added 12. Jenkins was 10 of 13 from the field.
The Trailblazers will begin their post-holiday schedule on Jan. 5 with a rematch at Sullivan Central.
The Daniel Boone boys evened their season record at 6-6 with a 75-70 defeat of Sullivan East in Bobby Snyder Gym on Dec. 21.
Senior 6-foot-4 wing Chad Heglar scored 30 points. Judah Hilton, who delivered the go-ahead put-back that proved to be the game-winner, added 16 points and Marshall Golden scored 10. Boone’s boys resume play when they host Dobyns-Bennett on Jan. 8.
David Crockett’s boys (4-9) opened a holiday tournament in Maryville with a 57-50 loss to Anderson County on Dec. 27. The Pioneers will resume Big Seven Conference play when they visit Tennessee High on Friday, Jan. 4, as will the Crockett girls team.
Tony Gordon’s Pioneers improved to 5-7 with a 52-14 win against Hanahan in a Christmas tournament in Summerville, South Carolina on Dec. 27.