PIGEON FORGE—For a half Monday afternoon, Morristown East’s girls looked like a team playing its season opener.
The Lady Hurricanes saw Knox Central score the final nine points of the second quarter to grab a 22-14 advantage at halftime.
However, it was a completely different effort by East in the final two periods as they roared from behind for a 50-37 victory.
Coach Michael Potts’ club shot better, rebounded better and played much better defense after intermission and all those things usually added up to a better outcome.
Sable Burnside hit 8-of-11 shots from the floor and scored 19 points to lead the Lady ‘Canes. Kierstin Bell added nine, Devasia Kyle eight and Sarah King seven in the victory.
Knox Central, now 0-3 for the season, got 19 points from Lexi Pendergrass who hit three treys in the first half. No other Lady Bobcat scored more than six.
East managed only 7-of-32 from the floor in the first half and missed all eight of its 3-point attempts. But Burnside, King and Bell all hit triples in the third quarter when the Lady ‘Canes took control with a 22-5 scoring bulge.
“In the first half not only did we not shoot well but we had way too many turnovers and made way too many bad decisions with the basketball,” Potts said. “We got great shots but missed so many easy ones in the first half. We played pretty good defense until they hit those three’s at the end of the half.
“But in the second half, I thought we played much better,” he added. “We used our athleticism on defense and our transition game was much better. We also did a better job of boxing out and rebounding.
“We still had too many turnovers even when we started playing basketball,” he said. “We’ve just got to take better care of the ball if we’re going to be competitive.”
The Lady Hurricanes wound up hitting 22-of-63 from the floor for 34.9 percent and were 3-of-18 from long range. Central was even worse, hitting just 28.3 percent on 15-of-53. The Lady ‘Cats were 5-of-14 from behind the arc.
There were plenty of rebounds to be had and East controlled the boards, 47-38. Bell led the way with 10 and Kyle grabbed nine. King and Noelle Cox had six each and Burnside got five.
Bell hit the first bucket but Pendergrass nailed a three and Addison Brewer hit her only basket of the night to give Central a 5-2 lead.
Pendergrass had two more baskets and it was 9-4 before the Lady Bobcats settled for an 11-6 lead at the first rest stop.
Burnside opened the second stanza with a basket and then drove the baseline for a layup to chop the spread down to one with 6:32 left in the half.
Pendergrass struck again for Central but Cox scored inside and then Burnside put East in front 14-13 with 4:27 remaining in the second canto.
East didn’t score again in the half. Central seized control as Pendergrass knocked down two three-pointers and Allie Gregory added another.
But Burnside started the third quarter with a three-pointer and then had a steal and layup. Burnside stole the ball again and passed to Kyle for the easy basket and the Lady ‘Canes were suddenly just one down with 6:33 left in the third.
After a Central time out, East got the ball back and Bell nailed a triple to give East a 24-22 lead.
Mackenzie Babb tied it for the Lady ‘Canes before Bell hit a 15-footer for East. Gregory put Central ahead for the final time with a three-pointer with 2:37 left in the quarter.
Burnside scored inside to shove East back ahead and King followed with a triple. Before the quarter was over, Cox hit a free throw and Bell and Hailey Hall had baskets and the Lady ‘Canes were up 36-28 at the final break.
Kyle had two buckets early in the fourth for a 10-point lead but Pendergrass had two straight baskets to get Central within 40-35 with 3:08 to play.
However, East pulled away again. Megan Winstead scored a basket and then Burnside hit two charity tosses. Kyle and Burnside added buckets and it was a 13-point game with just over a minute to play. Babb and King traded baskets at the end.