Bulls, Blazers reel in Boys/Girls Club titles

By Jeff Birchfield

   The Bulls rallied from behind in the last minute to win over the Jazz 12-10 and take the girls 8-11 crown Monday night at the Elizabethton Boys/Girls Club.
   After Chelsea Melber of the Jazz hit a basket with 1:12 left to put them on top 10-8, the Bulls stormed back. Mindy Taylor converted on 1-of-2 free throws and Karlyssa Smith hit another pressure packed foul shot to tie the game. With only 45 seconds remaining, Whitney McNeil hit what proved to be the game winner for the Bulls.
   "They played tough," said Bulls head coach Tom McNeil. "It looked like we were in trouble, but we kept playing defense. We have stressed defense all year and the girls didn't give up and they kept playing.
   "All seven girls contributed to the team's success. I want to thank the Boys Club. We had a good time this year."
   Madison Barnett scored an apparent game-tying bucket for the Jazz with 12 seconds left, by the basket was waved off for a walking call. After the Bulls regained possession, they hung on to capture the title.
   "We just had a couple of bad passes, remarked Jazz head coach, "But, the girls didn't give up. They played hard. Melba hit a big shot. We came out of the losers bracket and had a chance to win the whole thing. We had to play this team twice as we beat them Saturday."
   After the Jazz took an early lead on buckets by Ashley White and Kayla Deloach, Bulls' guards Emily Brandt and Brianna Blevins turned up the heat double-teaming the ball.
   Their plan worked as the Bulls had fought back to take a 5-4 lead at the end of the first half. The Jazz pulled back ahead on a score by Leslie Kate Dauksch, only to be answered by a free throw by Taylor.
   McNeil hit a runner on the right side with 35 seconds left in the third to put the Bulls back on top. A 10-foot jumper by White at the 3:34 mark knotted things at eight for the Jazz. Both teams turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter with full-court presses before the exciting finale.

Trail Blazers 13
76ers 8

(Boys 5-7)

   The 76ers may have felt the victim of Lowe-ball tactics as Travis Lowe burned them for 10 points and 8 rebounds in the boys 5-7 championship game.
   "Travis led us in scoring and rebounding all year," explained Blazers head coach Rick Baughman. "He is going to be a real good ball player. He was like everyone on our team. They all gave 110 percent this season."
   Most of Lowe's damage came in the third quarter when the Blazers outscored the Sixers 8-0 to give them a comfortable 13-4 lead going into the final five minutes.
   "We beat them the week before last," said 76ers head coach Rick Richardson. "But, they got on a run in the third quarter. That third quarter killed us. That No. 1 (Lowe) is a load. You have to give them credit. It started snowballing and we couldn't get it stopped."
   For the first half, the game was much closer. Lowe made a pair of free throws, but, was answered on the other end by a Jordan Hinshaw bucket for the 76ers. Cory Richardson then put the Sixers ahead 4-2 and Quinton Hoogcamp helped keep them on top tying the ball up on the inside.
   Clayton Smith and Conner Campbell, however were able to work the ball inside for the Blazers, where Lowe finished things off. Smith added a free throw to give the Blazers a 5-4 lead they would take into the half. A steal by the 76ers' Cameron Blair kept the lead in check until the third quarter run.
   In the fourth quarter, the Sixers actually outscored the Blazers 4-0 as Richardson made a pair of free throws as well as a put-back bucket. Josh Harrison made it to the charity stripe in an attempt to close things further, but the Sixers were unable to shrink the lead.
   The Sixers took consolation in a fine season. "We finished 11-7 for third place in the regular season," said coach Richardson. "We were second in the tournament. This has been a good group of kids and good group of parents. It's been a fun year."
   For the Blazers, they enjoyed the spoils of victory. "We were 13-1 in the regular season and we won the tournament championship," said Baughman. "This is the first team this age I've coached where everyone scored during the season. The kids gave it their all and made this an enjoyable season."