Tharptown girls pull away late to win
RED BAY – The fifth-seeded Tharptown ninth grade girls team fought hard Monday night during the opening round of the Franklin County Junior High Basketball Tournament and was rewarded with a 39-26 victory against fourth-seeded East Franklin.
With two of its key defensive players – Dovie Ergle and Kamri Sears – in foul trouble, Tharptown was able to hold East Franklin to three points in the final quarter to secure the win.
"They block a lot of shots and get a lot of rebounds," said Tharptown coach Chad Green. "We knew we would have to pressure the ball more get some turnovers out front."
The Lady Wildcats opened the game on a 6-0 run but East Franklin rallied to cut the Tharptown lead to 7-6 at the end of the first period.
Autumn Thomas gave the Lady Rebels their first lead of the game when she sank a shot early in the second quarter.
Tharptown's Chloe Lane hit a pair of free throws to regain the lead, but East Franklin's Ciara Harville and Thomas hit back-to-back shots to give the Lady Rebels a 12-9 lead.
The Lady Wildcats scored the next four points on a basket by Ergle and a pair of free throws from Braeden Sellers to regain the lead. Shortly before halftime East Franklin's Kassy Baker hit a free throw to tie the game heading into the break.
Harville hit a free throw early in the third quarter to give East Franklin a brief lead, but the Lady Wildcats went on a 6-2 run.
Harville later sank a 3-pointer to tie the score 19-19 and that was as close as the Lady Rebels would get to taking the lead.
Elly Valdez scored and Sellers nailed a 3-pointer to put Tharptown ahead by five points before Brittney Cheatham scored for the Lady Rebels.
Sears scored for Tharptown and Harville answered for East Franklin as the teams ended the third quarter with the Lady Wildcats clinging to a 26-23 advantage.
Tharptown continued to roll in the final quarter, opening with a 6-0 run to build a commanding lead before Thomas scored.
Tharptown went on another run, scoring five unanswered points before Chastalyn Chaney hit a free throw for East Franklin's final point of the game.
The Lady Rebels had three players foul out of the game during the final quarter.
Harville scored a game-high 12 points for the Lady Rebels while Thomas scored 10. They were two of the players that fouled out.
Also scoring for East Franklin were Cheatham (2), Baker (1), and Chaney (1).
Sellers was the leading scorer for Tharptown with 10 points while Valdez added nine points and Sears and Lane scored eight points each. Also scoring for the Lady Wildcats were Ergle (2) and Haley Hatton (2).
With the win Tharptown advances to play Red Bay at 1 p.m. Saturday at Red Bay High School. Red Bay is the top seed in the tournament and has a 17-0 record.
"This one builds some confidence – this is the first time we've beat (East Franklin) this year," Green said. "We came (to Red Bay) and they beat us pretty good. At home we played a pretty good game."