T.A. Dugger girls advance

from staff reports

   PIGEON FORGE -- Down the stretch, Saturday's girls sectional basketball game between T.A. Dugger Junior High and New Center Elementary School was filled with one gut-wrenching twist after another.
   Ultimately, the Lady Junior Cyclones were a shade better than their worthy opponent, taking a 43-42 victory in the opening round of the sectional tournament.
   That means T.A. Dugger, the Area 1 runner-up, will return to Pigeon Forge and meet up with Area 2 champion Jacksboro in the tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday night at 6:15.
   When Victoria Hopson sank one of two free throws with six seconds remaining in the contest, she broke a 42-42 tie and gave the Lady Cyclones, who held their collective breath as the Lady Rockets missed a shot at the buzzer, a chance to play another day.
   Down 19-7 in the second quarter, T.A. Dugger gradually closed the gap -- the Lady Cyclones trailed 32-29 after three quarters of play -- then grabbed the lead with a good fourth-quarter spurt. However, the Lady Rockets responded with a spurt of their own, setting the stage for an air-tight finish.
   Marti Bush, with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two steals, and Victoria Hopson, 12 points, seven boards and three steals, proved to be the leading catalysts for T.A. Dugger, which got an eight-point showing from Brianne Gouge.
   Gouge had a big moment late in the final period, drilling a three-pointer that took the Lady Cyclones from a two-point deficit to a one-point lead.
   Courtney Towle chipped in six points while Holly Livingston and Michaela Pietrowski grabbed six rebounds apiece for the winners.
   Strable tossed in 23 points to pace the Lady Rockets.