By TREY WILLIAMS
The David Crockett girls basketball team hadn’t played since a Nov. 28 loss to Cocke County in the Hardee’s Classic championship game when it took the court Monday in Maryville.
And the coronavirus pandemic that had led to a 23-day layoff also left the Pioneers without Mackenzie Baldwin and Nora Walters.
But senior Emma Gouge poured in 20 points and grabbed six rebounds and first-year coach Thomas Gouge’s Pioneers improved to 4-1 with a 70-52 win against First Baptist Academy in the Maryville Heritage Christmas Classic.
“It was just great to get back on the court and play,” Thomas Gouge said. “We’ve not played since the Hardee’s Classic, which was nearly a month ago. To come out our first game after the long layoff with two key players still out and score 70 was promising and shows the potential this team has. The girls have really been getting after it and our practices are intense battles every day.”
Crockett also got 11 points from Alyssa Suits and nine from Kaylee Tester. Halle Scott and Kadence Fannon added eight apiece.
“We have depth and the underclassmen have really stepped up as well,” Thomas Gouge said. “We just have to lock in and stay focused and improve daily. The future of our program is very bright, and I believe for this year’s team the sky is the limit.”
David Crockett’s boys had a less enjoyable week. Second-year coach Cody Connell’s Pioneers dropped a home game against Elizabethton on Tuesday and a pair of games in Maryville on Friday and Saturday, and Connell said he thought the Pioneers should’ve won all three.
Elizabethton escaped 65-63 on a last-second put-back by Will Willocks. With the score tied, the Cyclones attempted a 40-footer with some six seconds left, and then missed a follow attempt of the air-ball. But Willocks grabbed a second offensive rebound.
“I thought we played good for about 31 minutes and 55 seconds,” Connell said. “It was just one of those unbelievable finishes there at the end where they got two offensive rebounds. And when that happens you’re not gonna win many games. …
“The first shot was about five feet in front of half-court. Their kid got the rebound and did a reverse layup. He missed it, but our guy tried to block the shot. And when he did his guy snuck in and got the rebound and laid it in with no time left. It was kind of depressing, very depressing.”
The trip to Maryville was even more disheartening. The Pioneers (5-4) lost 59-53 to Concord Christian on Friday and 59-55 to Maryville Christian on Saturday, and Connell said his team should’ve prevailed rather comfortably in both games with effort and focus.
“We got up 15 both games,” he said. “Concord Christian outrebounded us 47-20 with 26 offensive rebounds. And we were way more athletic.”
The Pioneers were flat much of the way in both games, which were played in what were essentially empty gyms.
“We’ve got to learn not to rely on the crowd or the atmosphere to get us pumped,” Connell said. “We also shot 18 percent. You’re not gonna win any games doing that.
“Maybe it’ll wake our guys up a little bit. We lost two games in our Christmas tournament last year we had no business losing last year. Right after that we kind of turned it up a little bit. We got back home and started playing really good basketball.”
Ayden Begley and Mason Britton scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, against Elizabethton.
Begley had 19 points against Concord Christian. Isaiah Lang had 12 points, five steals and three assists. Britton tallied 10 points and eight rebounds.
Clint Pierce scored 27 points against Maryville Christian.
Britton is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks on the season. Begley is averaging 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Daniel Boone boys lost 48-45 at Gate City on Monday. The Trailblazers, who led by seven with four and half minutes left, were outscored 20-4 during a game-ending tailspin.
Samuel Stroupe led Boone with 13 points. Breiydon Gilliam and Caleb Head added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Head had six assists and six rebounds, both team highs.
The Daniel Boone girls (0-6) lost 45-36 to Tennessee High on Dec. 15. Savannah Jessee and Maci Master had 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively. Freshman Josie Jenkins’ six points led the team.
The Trailblazers are scheduled to play Cloudland on Tuesday at Ridgeview Middle School due to the court being redone at Bobby Snyder Gym.