By Garry Robbins
The Stone Memorial basketball teams split a pair of games with Diistrict 6AAA foe Rhea County Friday night, as the Panthers improved to 7-2 with a 88-54 victory over the Golden Eagles, while the Lady Panthers were beaten 70-42 to fall to 5-5 on the season.
SMHS 71, Rhea County 42: With the victory, the Panthers share the district lead at 2-0 with White County which diefeated Warren County Friday evening, followed by Cookeville (1-1), CCHS (1-1), Rhea County (0-2) and Warren County (0-2).
Once again, the Panthers came out ready to roll, as they started the game on a 6-0 run, as senior Justin Simmons dominated the first quarter with 12 points.
He nailed a three-pointer as time expired in the half to give him 17 points and the Panthers a 43-25 lead.
Stone seemed to be more athletic to the Eagles this night, and the senior leadership of Simmons, Luke Matthews and Tyler Yoder was evident as they cruised to an 18 point lead at the break.
The game continued in the second as it had in the first half, with SMHS making shots and putting pressure on Rhea County on defense and after made baskets.
Yoder got hot in the third quarter, as he hit back-to-back three pointers to push the lead to 28 with 1:41 left in the period to finish with 14 points in the quarter.
SMHS led 71-42 going into the final quarter and finished the game with a 17-12 run for the final score of 88-54.
Coch Neil Capps got some good minutes from his bench, with Colin Russell, Parker Hill and Mitch Ball all contributing. The Panthers handled the Golden Eagles without much of a threat, as Capps continues to prepare them for a holiday tournament and keep pushing toward the state tournament in a few months.
Leading scorers for the Panthers were Tyler Yoder (23), Justin Simmons (22), Luke Matthews (12), Gage Spence (9), Mason Baucom (3), Tristan Norman (0), Nathaniel Sexton (0), Chandler VanNatter (2), Frank Heilmeier (0), Brandon Thomas (5), Mitchell Ball (7), Parker Hill (0), Collin Russell (0) and Shade Foster (0).
The Panthers will be playing in the Maryville Christmas Tournament Dec. 26-28, 30, before returning home Jan. 3 to face Knox Karns at 4:30 p.m. and then traveling to Alcoa Jan. 4 for a 4:30 p.m. contest.
Rhea County 70, Lady Panthers 42: With the loss, the Lady Panthers fell to 0-2 in the district behind CCHS (2-0), Cookeville (1-1), White County (1-1), Warren County (1-1) and Rhea County (1-1).
Again, SMHS started out slow in the first period from a rough night from the field. The Lady Eagles scored first, took a 20-8 lead and never trailed in the game.
Jesse Wallis of the Lady Eagles started out hot, hitting a three pointer and a lay-up after a steal for an 18-6 advantage and finished the quarter with the 20-8 advantage.
Wallis got into foul trouble and wasn't a factor for the rest of the game, which opened the door for the Lady Eagles' Amber Levi to have a great evening on the Plateau.
Levi scored seven points in a row to build a 29-10 lead with 3:01 left in the second period. SMHS made a run to get back into the game, as they closed out the half with a 9-2 run, but still found themselves down 33-19.
Levi started the second half with a trey, and finished the third quarter with 27 points, while Stone Memorial's Lady Panathers had only 28. Rhea County led 59-28 after three periods.
SMHS outscored Rhea County 14-11 in the fourth quarter for the final margin of 70-42,
All of the Lady Panthers saw playing time with all but three hitting the scoring column.
Stats leaders were Tiffany Cokkinias (eight points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals), Jordan Thompson (two points, two rebounds), Kirsten Potter (four points, two rebounds), Jacki Livesay (10 points, four rebounds), Lacey Melton (five points, three rebounds), Riley Hunt (two points, four rebounds), Abby Griffin (two rebounds, one steal), Bailey Rutledge (two points, two rebounds), Courtney White (two points, one rebound, two steals), Sidney Early (two points, one steal), Brittany Brun (one rebound, one steal), Sam Gray (five points, one rebound); and Haley Coudriet (one rebound).
The Lady Panthers will return to the court Dec. 227-28 and 30 in the Midway Christmas Tournament, before hosting Alcoa at 3 p.m. Jan. 3 and traveling to Alcoa Jan. 4 for 3 p.m. game.
(Editor's note: Tim Cokkinias supplied the statistical information from the Lady Panthers game.)