By TREY WILLIAMS
The David Crockett girls basketball team lost its first-ever regional home quarterfinal game against Seymour on Friday, but it’s fitting that they worked overtime while trying to advance.
The 54-52 overtime setback underscored the group’s collective resolve in a season of firsts, which included playing through a pandemic with passionate first-year coach Thomas Gouge.
“We had a bunch of fighters that bought in and I believe finally had the mindset that we expected to win every night,” Gouge said. “We tried to install that.”
Crockett was led by 1,000-point scorer Emma Gouge, who scored 21 points against Seymour. Lead guard Halle Scott and players such as Mackenzie Baldwin, Alyssa Suits, Emily Trivette, Kadence Fannon and Nora Walters also were key in helping Crockett sweep Daniel Boone – three straight, including the district tournament triumph – for the first time in the rivalry’s 50 years. The Pioneers also beat Dobyns-Bennett twice for the first time in 50 years after defeating the Indians at all for the first time in 16 seasons.
Crockett also swept Tennessee High (three games) for the first time and advanced to the district championship game for the first time since 1995.
The district title was there to be had against a good Science Hill team, as was the case, obviously, in the regional loss to Seymour.
“Really wish I had more time with this group,” Gouge said, “but they got that monkey off the back with D-B and Boone. I think we would probably have gotten another 2-3 wins somewhere as well with a full summer of camps, too.
“All in all, I’m proud of them. But it sucks to be so close to winning district and our first region game in history and just falling short.”
Crockett produced a program-best six-game league wins streak and the 8-4 Big Seven Conference mark was the Pioneers’ best ever.
“To say I am proud and blown away by this group is an understatement,” said Gouge, who also commended assistant coaches James Howerton, Emily Sizemore and Jerry Day. “I know the last few games were heartbreaking and we weren’t ready for it to be over, but when they look back on this season I want them to remember all that they accomplished and all the records they set.”
The Daniel Boone boys didn’t have the regular season they expected, one that included quarantines for COVID-19, but they shrugged off a last-place finish in the Big Seven Conference to finish third in the District 1-AAA tournament and advance to the regional.
The season concluded for Chris Brown’s Trailblazers with a 59-41 regional quarterfinal loss at South-Doyle on Saturday.
“I would like to thank our seniors for the impact they have had on our program: Crowder Jones, Phillip Page, Devon White, Jackson Jenkins, Samuel Stroupe, Caleb Head, Breiydon Gilliam and Julian Story,” Brown said. “Obviously the season ended earlier than we wanted it to but it has been a joy to coach and watch the development of these young men. South-Doyle was a tough opponent but our players competed and played extremely hard. Unfortunately, at times it’s as simple as putting the ball in the basket and we struggled to do that Saturday night.”
Boone’s postseason run included avenging a regular season sweep to rival David Crockett and a win at Volunteer on Head’s 25-foot buzzer-beater that gave the ‘Blazers third place in the district.
“Outstanding effort and proud of our players for staying together during the tough times and peaking when we did during tournament play,” Brown said. “On a positive note, I am excited about the guys we have returning. Our JV team won the conference tournament and our freshman finished runner-up. We have a strong nucleus of returners and it was great to see some of them already in the weight room Monday morning at 6:30 already preparing for next year. The future is bright for Boone basketball.”