Keenburg girls, Unaka boys seize small division crowns

Photo by Rick Harris
Keenburg's Jessica Trivette is heavily guarded.

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Correspondent

   The Carter/Johnson County District Elementary Tournament finals saw the Keenburg girls upend Central and the Unaka boys come out victorious over the Comets in the small school division on Friday night at Snavely Gym.
   The girls' game, a 23-21 decision, would turn out to be the closest game of the night, as both teams spent a lot of time at the charity stripe.
   The Lady Tigers' Jessica Estep was the game's top scorer with one field goal and six for 10 at the line. Jessica Trivette was second in points for Keenburg with three into the net and one free throw.
   "They played really hard," said Amy Harkleroad, Keenburg's head coach. "They did a great job. I am very proud of them.
   "We had a long year and they have stuck with it. Trivette played really hard. She was going 100 percent and hustled the whole time. Estep put in some buckets when we needed them. Brooke Bunton handled the ball great."
   The Lady Comets' leading scorer was Haley Sisk for seven. Whitney Murray was good for five. The girls may have made a difference at the free throw line, but instead went five for 19.
   "They played with a lot of heart and soul," said Lisa Sisk, Central's assistant coach. "Missing those foul shots really hurt us. All-in-all it was a supreme team effort. We are just looking forward to next year. We are a young team. We only lose two kids. We have nothing to hang our heads about."
   Central head coach Letha Carr was also very proud of the team.
   "Haley Sisk, for someone as big as she is, it is hard to make a basket with two or three hanging on you," Carr said. "She gives it her all every game.
   "She is our leading rebounder and leading scorer. Emily Bradley is a team leader all the way through and a great communicator. She knows the plays, and she relates that to the girls. Whatever we need, she does. That child will never complain."
   Both of Central's coaches were also very proud of the way they have managed to work together and the school support they receive.
   "We work good together," Sisk said. "We are a good team. We have been told that we are the mirror image of each other. What one does, the other one does on the court."
   Carr agreed: "If it wasn't for this one right here [Sisk], I wouldn't have been able to do this. This is the soul right here. She has filled in when I haven't been at practices. In the game at Unaka, I wasn't able to make it.
   "If it wasn't for this lady, I don't know where our girls would have been."
   The Unaka boys came out hard pressed in the first and never let up for a 73-38 win over Central's boys.
   Unaka's Adam Colbaugh dominated the board with nine field goals, two points at the line and three shots from way outside for 29 points in the game.
   Travis Taylor was good for 15 and Jeff Peters was six for six at the charity stripe and nailed four field goals.
   "I think that is probably the best game we have played all year -- best first half we have played all year," said Unaka head coach Mark Revis. "I am really proud of the way they played. They came out and got after it the first half, and that is where you set the tone.
   "We have really exceeded our expectations this year," he said. From the first day we got in the gym, we have been getting better all year. I think we went up and down a little bit around Christmas time, but since Christmas we have really gotten better.
   "They have all done well, not just one of them, but all of them. We are looking forward to next year. They worked hard. They deserved it."
   Central coach Lamont Barnett was very pleased with his boys' performance, but seemed to expect the end result, due to the loss of one of his key players to an illness, Jared Cline.
   "We just didn't match up tonight like we should have at either end of the floor," Barnett said. "We did have our top gun out tonight due to an illness, but I am proud of the way they hung in there. The boys never gave up. They still played hard.
   "Unaka is a good ball club. We just got down there early, and it is hard to comeback on a good team. Unaka is a very talented team and very well coached.
   "For Unaka, we haven't played any better against them as we did the first time," he said. "We played them two times in the regular season and they took our hide pretty good. Tonight in the championship game, for the district, it was no different. I am really happy with our big boys, our eighth grade boys. I am really proud of all of them."
   Central's top scorers were Wesley Church with 14 and Cain McWalters for nine.