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In (And Out) Of The Zone

Lady Rebel defensive shift bottles up rival Alcoa
Alcoa’s Cassidy Anderson gets into the paint against Maryville on Friday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Cassidy Anderson’s 3 to pull Alcoa within one with just over a minute to play in the first quarter was the last straw.

Kayla Tillie gets to the basket for two of her game-high 20 points.

Kayla Tillie gets to the basket for two of her game-high 20 points.

Scott West signaled for time.

The Maryville coach ditched an ineffective zone defense and put the Lady Rebels in man-on-man. The Lady Tornado offense went away in noticeable fashion.

What Madison Coulter began, Kayla Tillie and Olivia Pepperman finished in the second half as Maryville rolled to a 57-39 win in the battle of rivals on Friday at Alcoa.

Tillie, the reigning District 4AAA Player of the Year, led all scorers with 20 points, the Lady Rebel senior and point guard hitting twice from the arc. Coulter hit twice from downtown in the opening quarter, adding a trio of buckets in the key to finish with 12.

Pepperman’s 11 points were big in Maryville’s ability to dominate the basket area the final three quarters.

“We compliment each other really well,” Tillie said. “We share the ball and no one’s selfish. Anyone can have the best game on any given night.”

The loss of clutch performers Leila Bangash and Dee Cook to graduation following last season left big holes for West and Maryville (8-1) to fill.

“When you shoot 70 percent in the first half, that helps a lot,” he said. “Kayla and Madison make it a lot easier.”

Madison Coulter works in close for two more.

Madison Coulter works in close for two more.

While a couple of starters are new, most of this year’s roster has been together since middle school. Any sense of newness is muted, Coulter said.

“I think we have a really good dynamic because we’ve been playing together for so long,” she said.

Alcoa (4-7) got another big night from Hannah Troutt with 12 points. The senior guard, really ramping it up of late, was the only Lady Tornado to reach double figures.

Madison Davis had six for Alcoa, Tara Shields and Anderson five each.

With a big front line that’s only gotten bigger with the already perimeter-deadly Coulter working more and more around the basket in this her sophomore season, the Lady Rebels opened in a zone defense intent making Alcoa’s guard-heavy attack beat them with jump shots.

Shields and Anderson hit once each from the arc the first eight minutes. Troutt repeatedly got behind the Lady Rebels for four more from inside the zone.

“We were just losing them,” West said.

Anderson’s 3 made it 17-16 Maryville with 1:23 to play in the first, at which point West called for time, his second in just over a minute.

Alcoa tallied only six more points the rest of the half as Maryville went to the locker room with a 35-22 halftime lead. In their defense, the Lady Tornadoes were coming off a District 4AA contest at Kingston only the night before.

“You can balance that with good choices,” Alcoa coach Tonia Johnson said, “and we did not make good choices. They went to the basket, and we did not. Their guards did a great job of getting into the paint.”

Tillie poured in nine of her game-high 20 in the third, including her second trey. By the start of the fourth, the Lady Rebels had widened the lead to a 50-28 margin.

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