Lady Jr. Cyclones advance in Middle Eight tournament

By Kim Richardson
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The T. A. Dugger Lady Jr. Cyclones are heading on to bigger challenges after defeating the Redskins of Ross Robinson 35-23 in the opening round of the Middle Eight Conference tournament Thursday afternoon.
   "It was a tough game, especially with the quick turnaround from having to play Tuesday night," said Jr. Cyclone head coach Angie Barker, referring to her team's loss to Unicoi County. "We bounced back well, even with the early injuries. Kyla (Jones) got hit in the eye, and Hannah (Fritz) hurt her thumb. We hope to have them back next week."
   TAD took the early lead after one quarter, outscoring the Redskins 10-2. By halftime the Jr. Cyclones had scored another dozen, while Ross Robinson, though better in the second quarter with seven points, still trailed 22-11.
   "We lost to a good team; it's over for us," said Redskins head coach Doug Wagner.
   "But what a great bunch of eighth graders I've had the honor to coach this season: Ruth Oviatt, Morgan Rugledge, Savannah Harrison, Jennifer Sampson, Ashley Crawford and Bethney Risner. They're such great students and athletes, but most importantly they're very lady-like. We'll really miss them."
   Ross Robinson played better defensively in the third quarter but kept drawing iron from outside, hitting only three free throws, and found itself still on the short end after three, 29-12.
   The Redskins outscored the Jr. Cyclones 11-5 in the fourth quarter as both teams managed to get playing time for every team member.
   "We didn't shoot well throughout the contest," said Morgan, "but hey, Coach Barker had a great game plan. I wish them well."
   Lean Henson, Janey Robinson and Mariah Pietrowski shared high-scoring honors with six points each. Kelli Culler hit a long three early in the contest and added a deuce in the fourth to finish with five, while Jasmine Treadway and Whitney Forbes tallied four each.
   Fritz scored two points before her early exit, and Kelly Aubrey also scored two.
   Whitney Forbes hit two second half buckets and played excellent defense for the Jr. Cyclones.
   "Defense was the key," she said. "Well, defense and of course, boxing out. Coach really stresses boxing out. We don't want to give the other team any extra shots.
   "We also ran well. We don't ever like to give up any free buckets."
   Coach Barker agreed.
   "That's a big part of our game," she said. "When we box out well and play hard, we have a great shot at winning."