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Three Ball Corner Pocket

Treys earlier, Bangash late, carry Lady Rebels

_MG_3703Maryville’s Kayla Tillie gets to the rim as Heritage’s Jordan Johnson defends. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Dee Cook lets it rip from three.

Dee Cook lets it rip from three.

Heritage opened in a zone, and Dee Cook – Maryville as a team, really – went to town.

Cook opened the game with three straight treys. The Lady Rebels knocked down five in the first five minutes, half their total for the game.

Heritage adjusted defensively and rallied, but Maryville’s opening salvo proved too great in a 52-46 Lady Rebel win on Friday.

The victory, Maryville’s second big district road win in as many games, lifts the Lady Rebels into sole possession of second place in District 4AAA behind frontrunner Farragut.

Maryville (14-3, 6-1) won in overtime at Bearden on Wednesday, with the Lady Admirals (15-1, 6-0) besting rival Bearden on Friday.

“To win at Bearden and Heritage in the same week is a happy week,” Maryville coach Scott West said.

The No. 9 Lady Mountaineers (18-3, 4-3), Lady Bulldogs (13-4, 3-3) and William Blount’s Lady Governors (13-6, 3-3) round out a still tightly bunched top five with three weeks remaining in regular-season play.

Leila Bangash paced the Lady Rebels on Friday with a team-best 18 points. Cook and freshman Madison Coulter finished with four 3-pointers each to put up 12 points each, with Kayla Tillie adding seven.

Leah Thomas steadied Heritage after Maryville’s opening blast, the junior shooting guard going to finish with a game-high 20 points and a pair of treys of her own. Kassi Knight struggled with a tough night shooting to finish with 10. Katie Wolfe, eight points, and Bethany Massey, six, helped bring the Lady Mountaineers back from an early, 12-point deficit with strong play around the basket.

Leah Thomas looks for an opening.

Leah Thomas looks for an opening.

The game’s decisive moments came in the first five minutes. Camped beneath the Lady Mountaineer zone at the baseline, Cook hit twice from the left corner and once from the right to rapidly open an 11-2 lead.

“I could tell they were going in,” Cook said. “The ball felt extremely light.”

Coulter popped from the right corner for three more, with Cook swishing her fourth soon after for a 17-5 Maryville lead with three minutes to play in the quarter.

Coulter credited Tillie and Bangash with beating the first line of the Heritage and distributing “so we could get open looks.”

“We practiced hard, and coach West came up with a good game plan,” she said.

Heritage coach Rick Howard took a timeout at that point and put the Lady Mountaineers in man-to-man. The game’s momentum swung noticeably, Heritage pushing a 15-10 scoring advantage to the half to trail by eight, 28-20.

Leila Bangash knifes to the basket.

Leila Bangash knifes to the basket.

“You roll the dice,” Howard said. “Who knew Dee Cook would hit four threes, but then, that’s what a senior can do.”

Thomas really began to heat up when play resumed and, following Knight baseline jumper with five minutes to play in the third, Heritage had cut the Maryville lead to 31-28 with a lot of basketball to play.

“We wanted to get (Thomas) going and get her the ball,” Howard said. “She’s a gamer. I thought if she could get hot, we’d make a comeback.”

Bangash and took it from there.

One last Coulter 3 opened the floor just enough, and Bangash powered to the basket on a series of drives to answer every Heritage surge.

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