By Ed Greif
The Stone Memorial Panthers will advance into tonight's Region 2AA semifinal game against Knox Fulton, after defeating Knox Carter 76-55 Saturday evening in the Panther gym; however, the Lady Panther's season ended with a 66-51 loss at Gatlinburg-Pittman Friday night.
SMHS 76, Carter 55: Four Panthers scored in double figures — Brock Rowan (25), Justin Simmons (19), Tyler Yoder (14) and Gage Spence (10), while Luke Matthews wrapped up the scoring with eight points.
"Carter is a good team. They play in a tough district," said Panther Coach Neil Capps. "We shot better in the second half."
The Hornets took a 5-0 first-quarter lead, but Rowan converted a three-pointer with under six minutes left to jump-start the Panthers, while a Matthews' bucket gave the Panthers a 10-8 lead with 3:26 left in the quarter. The teams exchanged buckets the rest of the quarter, before Spence gave the Panthers a 16-14 advantage at the buzzer.
SMHS built the lead to 24-16, but the Hornets stung the Panthers with 10 unansered points to take a 26-24 lead; however, the Panthers finished the quarter with an 8-5 run for a 32-31 halftime advantage.
Two baskets by Yoder, including a dunk, and a bucket by Rowan, put the Panthers ahead 38-35 with 5:02 left in the third quarter. Carter closed the gap to 38-37, but another bucket by Rowan with 4:09 remaining in the quarter sent the Panthers on a 17-7 spurt to take a 55-44 lead by quarter's end. Simmons and Spence also contrubuted to the scoring spurt.
A fourth-quarter trey by Rowan helped the Panthers go up 58-46, but the Hornets closed within 67-52 with 5:22 remaining in the game, but the Panthers finished the quarter with a 7-3 run for the final margin.
The Panthers face Fulton in the region semi-finals at Carter tonight at 5 p.m. CST.
"They are well coached and really spread you out defensively," added Capps.
A reminder to Panther fans going to and from the game: Be advised Tennessee hosts Friday, so allow some extra travel time as travel will be heavier as time draws closer to tip-off of the Florida-UT game which is at 9 p.m. EST.
Gatlinburg-Pittman 66, SMHS 51: The Lady Highlanders jumped out to a 29-12 first-quarter lead and then used a 16-14 second-quarter run to take a 45-26 half-time advantage.
Gatlinburg-Pittman stretched the lead to 56-32 after three quarters, but the Lady Panthers finished the game with a 19-10 fourth quarter to slice the final margin to 66-51.
Leading scorers for SMHS were Kirsten Potter (14 points), Jacki Livesay (10 points), Faith Van Ruden (nine points), Abby Griffin (eight points), Tiffany Cokkinias (four points), Sidney Early (three points), Emily Bryant (two points) and Makayla Kington (one point).
(Shane Wyatt provided information on the Panther game.)