T.A. Dugger slips past Jacksboro

By Ivan Sanders

   PIGEON FORGE -- Sometimes a loss in a tournament final does more good for a team than it does harm. Such was the case for the T.A. Dugger Lady Junior Cyclones, who after dropping an emotional loss to Greeneville in the Area 1 championship, reeled off their second exciting one-point victory in as many days.
   On the heels of two free throws by Michaela Pietrowski with 21 seconds left in the game, the Lady Cyclones clipped the wings of the Jacksboro Lady Eagles by a 37-36 final at the Pigeon Forge Middle School on Tuesday evening to advance to Friday's semifinal sectional game against Colonial Heights at 5 p.m. at Pigeon Forge.
   "We're definitely not going to underestimate Colonial Heights," said TAD coach Angie Barker. "This was our best overall defensive effort of the season. Our big girls really came through in the end."
   Playing nip and tuck throughout the contest, it was going to come down to the final seconds of the game to determine which school was going to advance to Friday's tilt. Fortunately for the Jr. Lady Cyclones, they had just enough to nudge them past a very tough Jacksboro team.
   With the score all even at 22-22 entering the final six minutes of play, TAD took their first lead of the quarter on a Tia Nave field goal to go up 24-23. A steal and a lay-up by Courtney Towle pushed the lead to three, 26-23, before a basket by Sierra Jessie cut the lead back to 26-25.
   The game was close throughout the session until the 21-second mark when Pietrowski gave TAD a 37-33 lead that was quickly cut to one on a trey by Jacksboro's Chelsey Jenkins with nine seconds left to play.
   Pietrowski was fouled again with the opportunity to extend the lead by to three with five ticks remaining, but missed both shots and TAD's Towle fouled Jenkins with :02 remaining to play, giving Jacksboro a chance to steal victory from the hands of defeat.
   Fortunately for the Jr. Lady Cyclones and their fans, the pressure was too much for Jenkins who botched both shots with the second miss being rebounded by Marti Bush, who was tied up for a jump ball. The alternate possession gave the ball to TAD who was able to hold on for a tremendous win.
   Brittany Lay led Jacksboro with 13 points followed by Jessie and Janey Ivey with nine points. Jenkins finished the night with five points in a contributing role for the Lady Eagles.
   For the Jr. Lady Cyclones, Pietrowski showed the way with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots while Towle and Brittany Smith finished with seven points each and Smith adding two steals.
   Other Lady Cyclone performers were Victoria Hopson with five points and four steals, Bush's four points and eight boards, and Nave collecting four points to close out the ledger sheet.
   T.A. Dugger enjoyed a strong following for the contest.
   "I'd like to say thanks to the fans," Barker said, "and for the support from our faculty."