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Not So Silent Knight

Heritage junior goes for double-double in LC tourney win

_MG_0712Lady Mountaineer junior Kassi Knight was whistled for the foul on this play Thursday morning, but check out the hops. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Leah Thomas drives the baseline on Thursday.

Leah Thomas drives the baseline on Thursday.

Lenoir City – The double teams are coming.

Two-three zones, box-and-ones, Kassi Knight will see it all beginning early next month.

Leah Thomas and Bethany Massey showed Thursday morning they’re ready.

Knight riddled Bledsoe County with midrange jump shots and layups en route to a double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds, and Heritage ran away from the Lady Warriors for a 69-50 win in a quarterfinal game at the Lenoir City Christmas Tournament.

The fifth-ranked Lady Mountaineers (14-1) meet Lebanon in today’s semifinal round at 4.

The athletic, 6-foot Knight pumped in 16 of her points in the opening half, Heritage holding a 34-24 lead at intermission. The Lady Warriors, led by slick guard play from senior Anna Peters and Destinie Smith, responded by tightening the zone to slow Knight down when play resumed.

Thomas, 16 points (three treys), four boards, and Massey, 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists, took full advantage right on cue.

“If she’s guarded, the ball comes out to us to hit the three,” Thomas said.

Jordan Johnson looks for room to work on the perimeter.

Jordan Johnson breaks down the Bledsoe County defense.

A pair of Thomas free throws with four minutes left found Heritage coasting home atop a 20-point lead.

The Lady Mountaineers showed no signs of rust from the holidays Thursday.

“The girls that had to step up, stepped up,” Heritage coach Rick Howard said.

That withstanding, there’s still much work to do, Howard said. District play opens with Bearden, Hardin Valley, Maryville and Farragut starting in two weeks time, beginning with a visit from the Lady Bulldogs and player of the year Erin Walsh on Jan. 3 – and that’s after the Lady Mountaineers conclude the three-day tourney run in Lenoir City.

Bethany Massey puts up a hook shot in traffic.

Bethany Massey puts up a hook shot in traffic.

“We’ve got to get better on defense because our district is so tough,” Howard said.

Pushing the tempo where possible, Bledsoe County played Heritage within a point, 16-15, after a quarter. The Lady Mountaineer backcourt began finding Knight with angled passes from the wings, and the Heritage ace responded with 11 second-quarter points to open some breathing room.

After Knight’s baseline jumper put Heritage up 14 midway through the third, the Lady Warriors made getting the ball inside that much tougher. Thomas, with a couple 3s, Massey, with clutching rebounding and free-throw shooting, put to good use the open looks that provided.

Abbie Burchfield, four assists, swished a 3-pointer early in the fourth, opening the floor again. Knight, Thomas and Massey owned the boards from there, Heritage extending to a 67-46 lead on two Thomas free throws with four minutes remaining.

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