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CAK size, foul disparity, dooms Lady Tornadoes in region final

Tiffanie Moore leans in awaiting a Christian Academy free-throw toss Wednesday. Photos by G.W. Meredith

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Strawberry Plains – Last time we checked, Alcoa doesn’t have anyone on the roster with a 40-inch vertical leap.

Hannah Troutt boxes out 6-foot-6 Christian Academy sophomore Cheyenne Hooper.

That’s about what it would take for the Lady Tornadoes to rebound with a Christian Academy of Knoxville team with two players 6-foot-2 or taller in the lineup. Throw in a sizeable foul disparity, and Alcoa eventually lost the pace in a 62-44, Region 2-AA championship game loss Wednesday night at Carter High School.

Both teams advance to Saturday night’s sectional round, with a berth in next week’s Class AA state tournament on the line. Alcoa travels to Elizabethton, with Christian Academy hosting Grainger County in Knoxville.

Grainger, the state’s No. 1-ranked team from wire to wire this season, fell in a shocker to the Lady Cyclones in the Region 1AA final.

With tournament most valuable player Anna Hammaker tossing in a game-high 20 points, Kaycee Heitzman 17 and 6-6 sophomore Cheyenne Hooper 16 and 15 rebounds, Christian Academy put the pedal to the metal with a 12-0 run to close the third quarter.

Any chance the Lady Tornadoes had of keeping up was crippled with all three of their big guns – seniors Katie Stubblefield and Tiffanie Moore and junior Kayla Newman – relegated to the bench with foul trouble.

“It’s not like just one of us can run the team,” Newman said. “When we’re out there together we play as a whole team.”

Stubblefield, an all-region selection, Newman and Moore would eventually foul out as Alcoa chaffed at a 12-4 difference in fouls assessed in the opening half, 19-8 for the game. The Lady Warriors shot 26 free throws on the night, the Lady Tornadoes 11.

Tara Shields weaves her way through the CAK defense. All-region selection Hannah Tate is at right.

“It changes our dynamic,” Alcoa coach Tonia Johnson said, “plus, it wears us down more quickly. The foul trouble all night long was a major issue. The girls sensed the pace of the ball game. It effected their demeanor and it effected us negatively.”

Alcoa never shot the bonus for the duration.

“Our young people had to step up and work harder as team,” freshman Tara Shields said. “They (Stubblefield, Moore and Newman) are our main rebounders and they keep us composed.”

“It hurts us” all-region selection Hannah Tate said. “We know we have to stay composed and work as a team. We can’t let down. We just have to stay in it.”

It all caught up with Alcoa despite a blistering start. Stubblefield, team-best 15 points, Tate 11, Moore nine and a trey and Shields, five and a 3, pushed the Lady Tornadoes out to a 9-0 lead to start the game. Full-court, trapping pressure produced a spree of Lady Warrior turnovers.

Katie Stubblefield eyes the mark from the free-throw line.

The fouls hit quick in the second quarter. Newman, Moore and Stubblefield each had two by the half, Alcoa slowing to a crawl on offense without them with six points in the quarter.

With 44 seconds to play in the half, Moore was assessed a technical after a tie up with a Lady Warrior beneath the basket. The resulting four free throws opened a 27-22 Christian Academy lead at intermission.

The Lady Warriors pushed their size advantage, with Hammaker adding a run-sparking 3, to open a decisive, 45-31 lead to start the fourth.





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