RUTLEDGE – Matty Tanner really likes playing against Morristown East.
The Grainger junior guard has scored a combined 39 points this season against the Lady Hurricanes, which included 17 points in Thursday’s 72-24 victory for the fifth-ranked Lady Grizzlies.
“Matty had been good against Morristown East as she had 22 at their place and 17 here,” Grainger head coach Rusty Bishop said. “If I could get her to bottle that and get her to use that from now on, she shoots the ball really well.
“In her defense, Matty has to guard the other team’s best player most nights, so we don’t always need her to go off offensively. When you get points out of Matty with the way she defends people, it’s a real bonus.”
Tori Rutherford also fired in 17 points for Grainger who improves to 25-2 on the season. East falls to 11-17 and was led by eight points from Sable Burnside. The Lady Grizzlies will play their next to last regular season game Friday as they play at Union County while the Lady Canes will wait for the IMAC district tournament to start next week.
Grainger led by 11 at 16-5 on a three by Tanner and a Rutherford steal and layup, but East controlled the rest of the opening period with baskets by Burnside and Devasia Kyle late to cut the Grainger lead to 23-12. The Lady Grizzlies picked up the defensive pressure and held East to two field goals by Burnside and a Kyle basket in the second period to take a 41-18 lead. Abbey Hodge scored eight points for the Lady Grizzlies in the second.
Bishop said that even though his team had a commanding lead at the mid-game break, he was none too pleased with his team’s defense.
“I told them at halftime I wasn’t very happy with our defensive effort, with the way we played and rebounded especially with the offense boards,” Bishop said. “Of course I guess I’m too picky because I don’t think anyone should ever score on us. Offense will take care of itself with our group so when we decide to guard people and rebound, we can be really, really good.
“I felt like we were a little lackadaisical and let them beat us back a couple of times in transition on made baskets and gave up way too many easy looks in the first half. It was a little better in the second half. East had two free throws in the third quarter and two field goals in the fourth so I think our team got the message.”
The Lady Grizzlies indeed got the message from their head coach as Megan Windstead’s two free throws with 16 seconds remaining in the third were the only points Grainger gave up. Meanwhile on offense, Tanner exploded for 11 points in the beginning of the second half as Grainger put the game away. Alia Maloney capped the scoring in the third quarter as she netted the final four points to put the home team up 69-20.
With a running clock, there wasn’t very much scoring in the fourth quarter as Millie Hurst had a free throw and Maloney scored again for Grainger and Burnside and Kyle each scored for East as the Lady Grizzlies swept the season series between the two teams.
Thursday’s game was the second of three this week due to all the rescheduling area teams have had to do because of inclement weather. The switch-up in scheduling is something Bishop said has not seemed to bother his squad.
“I haven’t noticed it at all in our play but it’s difficult when your routine changes from day to day,” Bishop said. “I felt like we have handled it pretty well. It happened to us at the end of last year as our routine was to be out of school, especially at tournament time so we are pretty battle tested and that hasn’t really affected us.”