Greenback basketball splits on road

Greenback School's Kierra Bishop drives to the basket Jan. 10 in the Lady Cherokees' 60-30 win over the Jellico High School Lady Blue Devils.

The Greenback School Lady Cherokees continue to build momentum in the second half of the season after notching their sixth District 2-1A win Friday with a 45-29 victory over the Hancock County High School Lady Indians.

The Lady Cherokees caught fire and scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to run away with the win.

"Things got a little hectic there when they made their run at us, and I was really proud of the girls ... we were able to take a timeout, get calmed down and establish a lead and keep pushing it on out," Angie Lucier, Greenback head girls basketball coach, said. "Hancock County's a difficult gym to play, it's a pretty wild atmosphere and everybody's kind of right on the floor with you, it's kind of dark lighting, so I was just proud of the effort. We had really good shot selection down the stretch, and I was really happy about that."

Sophomore guard Kierra Bishop shot her way out of a recent slump, going five-for-six on three-point attempts to finish second on the team with 18 points.

"Well, Kierra had been sick all week, she missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, so for her to come and have that good of a shooting night really helped out," Lucier said. "Hancock, they were really throwing different defenses and trying a bunch of things to try and throw us off, and the girls were really patient and moved the ball and several times we were able to find her wide open. For her to knock down five three-pointers, it helps."

The Lady Cherokees were also helped by senior guard Anna Morris, who led the team with 20 points.

"We started out really well in the first quarter, and I went a little blank in the second quarter," Morris said. "My teammates came back and we kept in it because other people picked it up and scored, and I came back in the third and fourth (quarters). I feel like I scored really well Friday night just because our game plan was excellent, and our teammates — everybody passed the ball really well and got people open. It was awesome because this season, Kiki (Kierra Bishop) has had a little bit of a rough patch, so to see her come out and score 18 points, it was crazy. She played amazing."

Junior Lily Morton scored three points against HCHS, but she has proven a difference-maker at point guard with quickness, ball-handling and scoring abilities.

Morton suffered a torn meniscus in her right knee midway through last season but has since fully recovered. She said her return has been far from easy.

"I didn't get to play more than half the season, so I've never really had a full season of basketball so I'm really excited that I get to play in districts and stuff," Morton said. "My body, I've never played this long obviously, so I've had to adapt to it. I'm having some calf problems right now from where my legs aren't really strong, but I'm just having to play through it because it's not really extreme."

The Lady Cherokees remain in second in the District 2-1A standings behind Cosby with a 6-1 record and have won their last three games.

"We definitely, I think, are coming together more as a team, and it took us all a while to figure out what we were going to do," Lucier said. "I know Lily, the point guard, on paper she didn't have a great offensive night, but when you look at steals, assists and just her ability to hold everything together, I was really proud of her performance at Hancock. Just an overall better atmosphere on the floor from the whole team, they're really picking each other up, being positive and I think it's a good, obvious change that we've had over the past few weeks."

The Lady Cherokees took on Sequoyah on Tuesday after presstime. Their next game is 7:30 p.m. Thursday at home against Coalfield, followed by a district rematch at 6 p.m. Friday at Washburn High School.

"We've got three tough games this week, three important games to us," Lucier said. "Coalfield already beating us in a close one at their place, it is something the girls are excited to get a second chance at. Washburn being in district, you've got to be ready for anything going up there."

Cherokees improving

The Greenback School Cherokees boys basketball team suffered an opposite fate Friday and fell 62-38 to the Hancock County High School Indians.

"We battled hard, got down big early, hit five threes in the first quarter and we battled back and tied it in the third quarter," Bryan Powers, Greenback head boys basketball coach, said. "The kids are still playing hard. We're battling, we're getting better every game. That's what our ultimate goal is — getting better for the tournament."

Depth has been a major issue for the Cherokees this season, forcing Powers to play fewer than 10 players night in and night out.

"We've got kids now ... Dakota Garland stepped in last week and played more than he has been playing and gave us some really good minutes," Powers said. "Josiah Millsaps is figuring things out, you know, we're getting really good minutes out of him right now. We've got Cody Best now coming off the bench, he was starting, but we've been kind of bringing him off the bench a little bit lately, and I feel like it's given him a little bit of spark, he's played really well the last two games. We're playing eight kids now, which is a definite improvement from where we were at. We're competing, we're getting three quarters now and now we're just working to get four."

The Cherokees will look to exact revenge Friday when they travel to take on the Washburn High School Pirates in a key District 2-1A matchup. The Pirates defeated the Cherokees 58-50 earlier in the season.

"Of course, Friday's a big one, and that's a district game that we feel like we should win," Powers said. "We feel like we should've won the first time. I wasn't there, unfortunately, due to my brother's graduation, so hopefully me being there will give the guys a little bit of a spark, too. It's definitely a long trip Friday, but we want to take advantage of it."