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Check and Mate

Bangash, Tillie deliver clutch drives as Lady Rebels turn back Heritage









Kayla Tillie drives to the basket against Heritage on Friday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

This time, Maryville made all the right moves.

Leila Bangash works her way to the basket against Heritage's Katie Wolfe.

In a game of fourth-quarter chess, Leila Bangash and Kayla Tillie got to the rim for three critical buckets late.

Clutch free-throw shooting did the rest as the Lady Rebels held off Heritage, 43-40, Friday night at James Campbell Gymnasium.

With the Lady Mountaineers holding a 33-30 lead with six minutes remaining, Tillie powered down the right side of the lane for a layup, converting on the free throw after being fouled.

Bangash found a similar opening down the left side three minutes later for a 37-33 advantage. The District 4AAA leading scorer this season made the lead stand with 5-of-6 free-throw shooting the rest of the way.

Kathryn Pepperman’s free throw with 4.7 seconds left was followed by a Heritage halfcourt heave at the buzzer that fell well short.

The Lady Rebels learned a lot from a 42-34 loss at Bearden on Wednesday, Bangash said, where hurried shots in the closing minutes allowed a slim lead to slip away. Five Maryville losses this season have come by five points or less.

With the lead late on Friday, Maryville was looking only for layups.

“The only way we would go was if it was wide open,” Bangash said.

If the Lady Mountaineers closed down the drive, “We’d give it up,” Tillie said.

Bangash finished with a game-high 20 points as Maryville (6-7, 4-2) kept pace with frontrunners Bearden (13-4, 5-1) and Farragut (16-2, 5-1) atop the district standings. The Lady Bulldogs knocked off the Lady Admirals, 35-33, on Friday to take sole possession of first place.

The lean, quick Bangash enters the heart of the district schedule averaging a league-best 16 points and 10 rebounds per game.

“She’s a player,” Maryville coach Scott West said.

Tillie followed Bangash into double figures with 11 points, with Georgia Miller, Olivia Spears and Emerald Van Winkle adding three each, each on a trey.

Kassi Knight gets the block on Maryville's Kathryn Pepperman.

Jordan Johnson pumped in 15, including a pair of 3s, to keep Heritage (10-6, 2-4) close throughout. Backcourt mate Leah Thomas and post player Kassi Knight tossed in nine each.

Key in a fourth quarter that saw the Lady Mountaineers open the frame with a 29-28 lead was one Heritage field goal the final eight minutes.

The 6-foot, super-athletic Knight represents a difficult matchup for any opponent. Bangash, a full head shorter, limited Knight to one, fourth-quarter jump shot at the 6:48 mark. With Tillie, Spears and Van Winkle doubling down quickly on entry passes, Heritage wouldn’t tally again from the field.

“They (the Lady Rebel coaching staff) told us they’d be bigger and they’d try to pancake us in the post,” Bangash said.

Johnson and Thomas helped negate Maryville’s strategy through the first three quarters, their perimeter scoring keeping Heritage within 12-10 after a quarter and 17-16 at the half.

West hoped that approach would swing things in Maryville’s favor in the closing minutes.

“We said we’re going to pressure the guards and get quick help on the inside,” he said, “but make it a tough pass. Our goal was to turn Kassi Knight into a jump shooter.”

It proved telling, Heritage coach Rick Howard said.

“We didn’t execute very well down the stretch,” he said. “We were 0-for-7 in the first half in the paint. If you can’t score in the paint, you’re going to have a tough time winning in this league.”

Tillie and Bangash survived the fourth quarter with both nursing three fouls, Tillie collecting her fifth with five seconds left.

Rebels 51, Mountaineers 21

T.J. Kimble gets to the basket against Heritage's Jordan Bryant.

It was never a contest with district frontrunner Maryville (12-2, 5-0) pushing out to big leads at the end of every quarter. It was 31-9 Rebels at the half.

Senior T.J. Kimble paced a brief night for Maryville starters with 13 points, including a trey. Bryan Landers added 10.

Andrew Petree had six for the Rebels, Tyler Vaught four. The Mountaineers (1-13, 0-5) found their shooting eye late, with guards Shawn Wilson Smith, two 3s, and Jordan Bryant, one, tossing in six points each.

Jesse Huff had four for Heritage, Matt Davis three.









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