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Lady Pioneers earn top spot after Boone win

The surprise team of the 2014 Big 7 basketball season continued their unanticipated start last week by not only beating their biggest rival, but in doing so, they were launched to the top of the girls’ basketball conference standings.
The Lady Pioneers under the direction of first-year head coach Marty Story stretched their overall record to 5-3 on the season and 3-0 in the conference after capturing three wins in three tries last week.
Crockett visited Sullivan Central (2-4, 0-3) on Dec. 2 and despite trailing 26-13 after the first eight minutes, the Lady Pioneers refused to allow their slow start to dictate the contest’s outcome.
They rebounded in the second quarter outscoring Central 24-13 to head into halftime only trailing by two, 39-37.
The second half would be all Crockett as the Lady Pioneer defense tightened down on the Lady Cougars, taking a four-point advantage in the third quarter after holding Central to only 10 points over the eight-minute stanza.
Crockett would finish strong, outscoring the Cougars 20-13 in the fourth quarter to capture a 72-63 final.
Three Pioneers scored in double-figures with Kaley Persinger leading the way with 18 points. Madison Grindstaff and Chelsea Lyninger added 13 and 12 points respectively.
Prior to their end of week finale against Boone, the Lady Pioneers coasted to a 94-29 win over Thomas Walker High of Virginia on Dec. 3.
Entering the Dec. 5 rivalry matchup in Jonesborough, Daniel Boone had also captured two wins on the week, both coming over conference opponents.
Boone’s first win of the week and the season came on Dec. 2 in a 62-46 effort against Volunteer. The Lady Blazers added to the win column two nights later by capturing a 57-39 victory over the Lady Cougars.
The first meeting of the season between the two rivals displayed a classic Crockett—Boone contest with multiple lead changes and a tight finish.
Each side relied on their respective playmakers, with Boone’s Taylor Carmichael and Crockett’s Lily Ayers each leading scoring with 22 points.
After a neck-and-neck first quarter to open the game that saw the Pioneers take a 15-13 advantage, the Lady Blazers exploded in the second by outscoring Crockett 25-16 to take a 38-31 lead into the half.
The Lady Pioneers came out from the break scoring the first 11 points of the second half to take a four-point lead before a Boone timeout slowed the Crockett momentum.
The Blazers would eventually rally to tie the contest at 48, but a strong finish to the third put the Pioneers in front, 55-51.
More lead changes followed in the fourth quarter as Boone pulled back ahead 67-65 with just over a minute left in regulation.
It wouldn’t last as the Pioneers seized the lead for good on Ayers’ fourth three-pointer of the contest to give Crockett a 68-67 advantage with 40 seconds remaining.
Boone would be unable to convert in the final 30 seconds as Crockett captured their biggest win over the past several seasons, 72-67.
Aside from the scoring totals by Ayers and Carmichael, several other Blazers and Pioneers played pivotal roles in the contest.
Boone’s Courtney Vasquez was the only other Blazer to reach double-figures in scoring, tallying 14 points, and Crockett’s Gordon and Persinger added 11 and 10 points respectively.
The win also vaulted the Lady Pioneers to the top of the conference standings alongside Science Hill where each sit at 3-0.