DANDRIDGE – Jeremy Byrd and his Jefferson County girls’ basketball squad knew Friday night would be an important district matchup against Seymour.
A team that has struggled with consistency, the Lady Patriots would need one of their more consistent performances going up against the Lady Eagles Maci Pitner and Emily Russell.
And they got just that.
Jeff County held Pitner, the Bryan College signee, to just seven points and got 22 from Alexa Gramann as the Lady Patriots used a big second half to take down Seymour, 49-41.
“I made a couple of defensive adjustments (in the second half), I changed some matchups around,” Byrd said. “I just reminded them that we needed to keep them out of the paint in the second half. We come out to a good start in the third quarter, I was real proud of them.”
Jeff County was led in the game by Gramann with her 22 points. Gramann scored her 1,000th career point with a free throw in the fourth quarter.
Along with Gramann, Kali McMahan was a huge spark in the second half with 12 points, 18 total in the game. McMahan also had some key offensive rebounds late in the game to hold onto the lead.
“Tonight, she got two offensive rebounds late on the free throws,” Byrd said. “She was open and the girls were real unselfish tonight and got her the ball. I felt that we had the advantage in the paint with her and we started out and immediately fed her.”
For the Lady Eagles, Russell had 10 points while Bailey McCoy had eight.
While Pitner did flash her ability, flipping in a layup over her head while getting fouled in the second quarter, Jeff County stuck Gramann on her for the entirety of the game. Using her size, Gramann caused issues for Pitner all game long.
“I just told Alexa to go guard her the best she could,” Byrd said. “Alexa is a solid defender. She’s so long and she takes good angles and she’s strong. It’s just hard to get any kind of shot off, especially if you’re a player like Pitner who is more finesse and doesn’t want to get her shot blocked.”
While Jeff County got the win, it was Seymour who got off to a quick start, building an 11-4 lead before the Lady Patriots ended the quarter on a 6-0 run.
In the second, Seymour kept the lead for the entirety of the quarter. However, Jeff County would not let the lead get over three and trailed just 23-20 at the half.
Coming out of the locker room with a little more pop, Jeff County went back-and-forth with the Lady Eagles as a defensive fight broke out. While Jeff only scored 11 points in the quarter, they held Seymour to eight points and the game was tied heading to the fourth.
In the fourth, Jeff County took control, outscoring Seymour 18-10. McMahan had 10 in the quarter, including clutch free throws down the stretch.
Jeff County will be back in action on Tuesday, taking on Greeneville in a non-district matchup. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
Gramann scores 1,000th career point
After all the circus shots, clutch baskets and physical drives into the lane, Alexa Gramann’s 1,000 th point almost seemed almost anti-climactic.
Gramann came into Friday night’s contest against Seymour needing 15 points to reach the milestone. As the fourth quarter began, Gramann stood at 14 points and was immediately fouled to open the quarter.
Approaching the free throw line, Gramann seemed to have zero nerves as she calmly stepped to the line and drained both free throws.
“It feels amazing,” Gramann said. “I didn’t even think we were going to have a season this year so to be able to even play with my girls makes me really happy. I was just happy that I could get it at home. I was just really excited to come out here and play and get my 1,000th point.”
A two-year starter, Gramann has been a staple for the Jeff County girls basketball program. Playing a more backup role during her sophomore and junior years, Gramann has had to step up into more of a leadership role this season.
Despite only coaching her for just a year, Jeff County coach Jeremy Byrd has already been impressed with Gramann and her basketball ability.
“I told her not to force it and let it happen and to just play,” Byrd said. “She’s stepped up in all roles; leadership, she’s played a lot of post and now I have put her at guard. It’s been a real joy to coach her. I was real proud of her tonight.”
The milestone is even more special for Gramann after everything that has happened this season. Not knowing initially if she would even get her senior season, to have this opportunity was a blessing.
“Every game, I try and come out here like it’s my last game (not knowing if the season would be cancelled),” Gramann said. “To be able to get that point, I was just glad to do it before Covid might have not allowed us to play anymore.”