Blount Press Row

The Ultimate Baby Shower

Carpenters captures county championship as coach awaits first child
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The Carpenters Middle Lady Cougars pose with the championship hardware after winning the East Tennessee Area 3 title Tuesday night. Carpenters coach Cassie Borden, nine months pregnant, is second row, far right. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Maternity leave?

Carpenters' Madi Hartgrove looks to pass the ball around Maryville Junior High's Rachel Reid in the Blount County championship game Tuesday night.

Carpenters’ Madi Hartgrove looks to pass the ball around Maryville Junior High’s Rachel Reid in the Blount County championship game Tuesday night.

This is basketball season, and Carpenters is rolling.

Lady Cougars coach Cassie Moulton Borden is expecting her and husband Hamilton’s first child any day now.

Maryville Junior High and the host Lady Cougars did their part to help things along, Carpenters Middle holding off the Lady Rebels, 33-30, in the championship game of the East Tennessee Area 3 Tournament Tuesday night.

The Blount County championship lifts the host Lady Cougars, along with the runner-up Lady Rebels and third place Sevierville Middle, into next week’s Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association regional tournament in Sevierville.

Borden will be there.

“We’re going right down to the wire with this,” she said. “The girls have been super excited for me.”

Tuesday’s championship capped a big, big year for Carpenters girls’ teams.

The elementary girls went an unbeaten 12-0 in winning the Blount County Elementary Tournament in December. The middle school junior varsity recently completed a 25-1 run.

With Tuesday’s championship, the Lady Cougars head to Sevierville with an impressive 26-1 record.

Abbi Joseph puts up a fall away jumper for Carpenters as Maryville's Lindsey Taylor defends.

Abbi Joseph puts up a fall away jumper for Carpenters as Maryville’s Lindsey Taylor defends.

Madi Hartgrove paced Carpenters with eight points in the title game, her jumper from the right side with just over two minutes left all but sealing it. Alyssa Walker had seven for the champs, Abbi Joseph five, Alex Shephard and Jasmine Ervin four apiece, Emma Harrig two.

“We worked together and played as a team,” Walker said.

The Lady Rebels got a strong floor game from guard Courtney Carruthers, who led all scorers with 13 points. Post player Lindsey Taylor balanced Maryville inside, finishing with 10. Rachel Reid had three for Maryville, Kelsi Tippett and Kayleigh Hames two each.

After a quarter to warm the engines, both teams hit the gas in the race to halftime, Carpenters getting there with a 16-12 lead. The margin was a razor thin 25-24 Lady Cougars after three.

“They just made some big shots,” Lady Rebel coach Matt Fowler said. “The gave us some mismatches on defense. When we had to help, they made some big shots, but I’m super proud of my girls.”

With Carruthers and Reid tough to guard off the drive, Taylor a tall, sure-handed scorer from the foul line down, Borden went with a defensive switch in the fourth quarter that proved a difference maker.

Lady Rebel guard Courtney Carruthers goes in for two of her game-high 16 points.

Lady Rebel guard Courtney Carruthers goes in for two of her game-high 16 points.

“We went to a zone just to try and contain them,” she said. “We’d played man against them every other time this year. I said, ‘Let’s go with a zone and see if they (the Lady Rebels) can adjust.’”

A Carruthers runner in the lane with three minutes left was Maryville’s only field goal of the fourth quarter until the Lady Rebel point guard struck for her second 3-pointer of the game just before the final horn.

Joseph put Carpenters ahead to stay with a pair of free throws with just over four minutes left. Two minutes later, Hartgrove all but sealed victory with a well-taken 12-footer. The shot came on play Borden dubbed “belly,” the signal to run it coming when the expectant mom rubs her hands across her abdomen.

“For a pregnant lady, she’s not bad,” Hartgrove said.

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