RUTLEDGE — The clock turned back Monday night at The Den as Grainger and Union County wore their throwback jerseys to the days when Horace Maynard and Rutledge did battle on the hardwood.
The old Horace Maynard High School was named for the former congressman, Attorney General and Postmaster General, but with the way Grainger drained three pointers, it was the visitors who pretty much mailed in it.
Seventh-ranked Grainger hit eight threes in the second period, six of them in a row and three of them by Matty Tanner in a 31-second span, as they overwhelmed Union County 77-41. The Lady Grizzlies (Pioneers) were 12-of-18 (67 percent) from behind the arc and coach Rusty Bishop said the offensive prowess his team showed was quite impressive.
“We got pretty hot there,” Bishop said. “In the first quarter Audrey Stratton and Sydnie knocked some down and then Matty got going. We shot it pretty well from the outside and if we do that, we are pretty deadly.”
Union County came into the game with a 12-3 overall record so the fact his team clobbered one of the better programs the Lady Grizzlies will face this season was not lost on Bishop. “Union County is very talented and I told our team that Jaiden Cox and Ella Johnson are as good a players as anyone we will play all year. They kept us honest defensively and those two did a good job of getting the ball in the paint, shot it well and made it hard for us on defense. But we didn’t have to be as good on defense tonight because we shot it so well.”
Tanner led Grainger with 16 points. Abbey Hodge and Sydnie Hayes each scored 14 points for the Grizzlies. Cox had 14 points for Union County and Johnson and Chloe Maggard each scored 10 points.
“We are very talented and can go eight to nine deep with people who can score,” Bishop said of his team’s depth. “We have a lot of people we can put into the game who can score with the basketball and that means the other team’s defense can’t lock in on one person. We have finally gotten better running our half-court offensive stuff and it is finally showing up on the scoreboard for us.”
The game was close early until the Lady Grizzlies took a 10-point lead at 26-16 on three’s by Audrey Stratton and two by Hayes. Those shots from downtown were a foretaste of what was to come as Tanner got loose for three triples in a span of 31 seconds. Hodge also connected on a three as did Stratton and another one by Tanner allowed Grainger to drain six shots from behind the arc in a row. The final two deep shots came from Kolbi Walker and Hayes as the Lady Grizzlies built a commanding 52-23 lead at halftime.
With a running clock, Grainger kept the offense in overload as they scored nine in a row to start the fourth period. The lead expanded to 42 points when Tanner scored on a rebound and with 3:08 to go, the starters went to the bench. Union County scored eight consecutive points to close out the third stanza to make it 70-35.
The fourth period allowed each team to get some playing time for their younger squad members as Millie Hurst scored a basket for Grainger and Rikelle Bowlin scored on a rebound of a missed free throw to produce the 77-41 win.
Grainger returns to action tonight when they travel to Cumberland Gap High School. Tip-off is 6:30 p.m.