By Ed Greif
The Stone Memorial Lady Panthers season ended Saturday afternoon in the opening game of the District 6AAA Tournament Saturday, as they lost 52-49 to third seed Rhea County, who had defeated SMHS twice earlier during the regular season.
The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 13, but last week's snow storm forced the game to be pushed back to Saturday, as Rhea County and SMHS were both out of school.
The win sent Rhea County into Monday's night's semi-final round against CCHS.
Rhea County 52, SMHS 49: Abby Griffin gave the Lady Panthers a 5-2 early lead, but a trey by Amber Levi sent the Golden Eagles on a 7-0 run to take a 9-5 advantage. A trey by Bailey Rutledge sliced that deficit to 9-8; however, Rhea County converted three of four free throws in the final 1:15 to take a 12-11 lead by quarter's end.
SMHS was four of 10 from the field with four turnovers, while Rhea County was three of 11 with one turnover.
Rhea County used a 8-4 second-quarter run to take a 20-15 lead, but free throws came to play in the final three minutes, as the Lady Panthers two of six free throws to help finish the quarter with an 8-4 run of their own to slice the gap to 24-23 at the break.
Griffin and Rutledge had treys for the Lady Panthers who were three of 11 from the field and four of 10 from the charity stripe with three turnovers. The SMHS defense held Rhea County to six of 16 from the field.
Kirsten Potter converted two lay-ups to give the Lady Panthers a 27-24 advantage early in the third quarter, but a jumper by Levi keyed a 6-0 run for a 30-27 advantage with 3:30 remaining in the quarter.
Rutledge converted one of two free throws to help the Lady Panthers finish the quarter with a 6-4 run to slice the gap to 34-33.
SMHS was four of 11 from the field and one of two from the charity stripe, while Rhea County was three of 13 from the floor and four of six from the charity stripe.
Lacey Melton converted two free throws to give the Lady Panthers a 35-34 lead early in the final quarter, but the Golden Eagles converted 14 of 18 free throws to finish the game with a 19-14 run for the victory to advance into Monday night's semi-final round against CCHS.
The Lady Panthers were two of nine from the field and 11 of 12 from the free throw line.
Leading the Lady Panthers were Tiffany Cokkinias (one rebound, five assists, three steals), Jordan Thompson (three points, three rebounds), Potter (11 points, six rebounds), Melton (11 markers, six rebounds, five assists, one steal), Riley Hunt (four rebounds, one steal), Griffin (15 ponts, one rebound, one assist, one steal), Rutledge (seven points, two rebounds, one steal), White (two points, five rebounds, two assists, three steals) and Sidney Early (one rebound, one assist).