By TREY WILLIAMS
After going winless in November, December and nearly all of January – a grueling drought which included two 10-day quarantines for COVID-19 – being told to hang in there was beginning to sound like gallows humor to Daniel Boone girls basketball coach Beau Hauldren.
But his young team’s determination finally swung into triumphant action on Jan. 26 when the Trailblazers hung a loss on Tennessee High in Viking Hall.
Minutes after the 50-45 victory, Hauldren’s shaky voice revealed the pride of perseverance and the strain of 14 straight setbacks.
“We were winless and it’s Jan. 26,” Hauldren said. “One thing these girls haven’t done is they haven’t given up. They’re still showing up at 6:30 on Mondays and Thursday for weights. They’re showing up from 3 to 5 to practice and they go hard.
“Obviously, this is a character year. How much character do we have? And they’ve shown a lot. They’ve done a great job and they responded well tonight. That was a good win.”
Freshman Kyleigh Bacon tallied 15 points, five assists and five steals for the Trailblazers (1-9, 1-15). She scored 12 points in the second half and hit two of her three 3-pointers while helping the ‘Blazers outscore Tennessee High 23-10 in the third quarter.
“She’s good and she’s only gonna get better,” Hauldren said. “Bacon’s playing a full game at 4 o’clock and she’s playing a full game at 6:30, and she’s done that all year. She’s playing two games on Tuesdays and Fridays instead of just one. I think it goes back to the character of the team and how mentally tough we are.”
It appeared the Trailblazers might win in a romp. Camryn Sarvis grabbed a steal and impressively finished a transition drive with her left hand for an and-one opportunity which she converted to give Boone a 42-24 lead with 7:22 to go.
But Tennessee High went on a 9-0 run in the ensuing 2:56 and got us close as 49-45 on a Riley Fritts drive with 14 seconds left.
Bacon made 6 of 9 foul shots in the fourth quarter to help stop the bleeding.
“We built a great lead,” Hauldren said. “We’re gonna learn from that run in the fourth quarter. We hadn’t been in that situation all year … and we’re only gonna get better from it. You can’t simulate game pressure like that in practice.
“I’m glad we were up 18 so we were able to keep the lead there at the end. We wanted to go zone and just have long possessions (late). They started hitting some shots, so we went man.”
Boone got seven points apiece from Sarvis and Savannah Jessee. Rebecca Higgins (six points) made two 3-pointers.
“I’m disappointed in the way we played tonight,” Tennessee High Coach Kim Bright said. “But give a lot of credit to Daniel Boone, because they played really well and wanted it a little more than we did.”
Boone shot a season-best 43 percent from the field. McKenna Dietz had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“We got a lot of contributions,” Hauldren said. “They’ve kept working and I’m happy for ‘em.”
Boone lost 50-28 to Big Seven Conference-leading Science Hill on Friday in Snyder Gym. The Trailblazers were scheduled to conclude the regular season by visiting Daniel Boone on Tuesday and at David Crockett on Friday.
Crockett’s girls also recorded a win at Tennessee High last week. Alyssa Suits led the way with 19 points in a 54-47 victory for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers (7-3, 11-6) couldn’t complete a regular season sweep of Dobyns-Bennett on Friday. The Pioneers, which had beaten the Indians, 46-44, in Jonesborough on Jan. 5, fell 53-37 in Kingsport.
Suits scored 11 points and Emma Gouge added 10 points and seven assists.
Gouge is averaging 12.3 points and approximately six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Mackenzie Baldwin is averaging 10.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Suits (8.3 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 spg), Halle Scott (6.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.0 spg) and Nora Walters (6.0 ppg, 5.3 rgp) have also been consistent contributors.
Crockett was scheduled to visit Science Hill on Tuesday after press time for the Herald & Tribune and will host Daniel Boone in its final regular season game on Friday.
The Daniel Boone boys lost 73-55 at Tennessee High on Jan. 26 and fell 59-46 at home against first-place Science Hill on Friday.
Breiydon Gilliam led the Trailblazers (2-8, 9-11) with 21 points against the Vikings. Samuel Stroupe added 15, 12 of which came from 3-point distance.
Gilliam led the way with 14 points against Science Hill. Stroupe and Crowder Jones scored 13 apiece.
The David Crockett boys (6-3, 11-9) defeated Tennessee High, 59-40, on Wednesday in Jonesborough and lost 70-60 at Dobyns-Bennett on Friday.
Ayden Begley and Clint Pierce scored 18 and 13 points, respectively, against the Indians. Mason Britton, Jacob Ayers and Colton Estep scored nine points apiece.
Crockett was scheduled to visit Science Hill on Tuesday and host Daniel Boone on Friday.