A huge crowd of Cumberland County folks made the journey to Anderson County High School on Tuesday evening to watch the boys and girls of Stone Memorial go for district crowns. In the first contest the Lady Panthers faced the Lady Redskins of Loudon, a team that Stone had defeated twice in regular season play, with the Lady Panthers winning 74-69 in overtime.

It is always a war when these two teams get together and this evening was no different. Stone coach Tim Smith said, "Loudon is a very good basketball team. They have some matchup problems with us but they are very quick at the guard position."

The Lady Panthers trailed by four points after one period and by a 26-24 margin at halftime as the game stayed close but the Lady Panthers just couldn't grab the lead.

The third period was a different story though as the girls from Stone came out and outscored Loudon by 20-12 to hold on to a six point lead at the end of three quarters. Stone had the lead up to seven points at one time and it looked like they might cruise on to the win.

That would not be the case and Smith said, "I told our ladies that Loudon would make a run at us and they did."

The lead seesawed during the latter stages of the fourth period. Heroes were in large supply for the Lady Panthers late in the game as Lindsay Smith hit a huge three-pointer, Leslie Brown had a key assist and Destiny Dishman made a big layup in a pressure situation. After the Lady Panthers had knotted the score, Loudon star Mardessa Hampton took the inbound pass with the score tied at 4.5 seconds remaining and ran the length of the court, but her shot at the buzzer was wide and overtime was forthcoming.

The throng from Cumberland County let out a collective sigh as they all felt like the Lady Panthers had just pulled off a great escape, and, that was, in fact, the case. Most had thought a few minutes earlier that the district crown was lost. Apparently that had never entered the minds of the team.

The Lady Panthers scored first in overtime and never trailed in the extra period, outscoring the Lady Redskins by an 11-6 margin to take a 74-69 district championship win.

Destiny Dishman had one of her best games ever as she blocked numerous shots and was very tough on the boards while scoring a game high 26 points. Smith commented, "Destiny really stepped up and had a great game for us." Chelsey Brown was again solid at the free throw line when it counted as she scored five points in the overtime period. Senior Lindsay Smith didn't have a big scoring night but her three-pointer in the closing stages enabled Stone to get to the extra period. Leslie Brown put four points on the board in the overtime, including a long range jumper.

In addition to Dishman's 26, Chelsey Brown scored 21 points, Leslie Brown 12, with Lindsay Smith, Brittany Eller and Caitlin Sanders each accounting for five points.

Of the point total Coach Smith said, "I'm not happy about giving up that many points but at this stage I'm glad to just survive and get through it."

Leslie Brown, Chelsey Brown and Lindsay Smith were named all-tourney with MVP honors going to Destiny Dishman.

The Lady Panthers will now host a very athletic Fulton team on Friday evening with the action beginning at 7 p.m.

Panthers give Anderson County a run for district crown

The Anderson County boys basketball team is blessed with height. The Panthers of Stone Memorial are blessed with heart. When that combination got together on the Mavericks' home floor on Tuesday evening, the game wasn't decided until the final buzzer had sounded and Stone had suffered a 49-47 loss in the district finals. One Maverick supporter was overheard saying, "That bunch from Stone will bring it at you." That had to be the sentiment of the entire crowd as the Panthers were the epitome of the word 'hustle.'

Coach Mike Buck said, "I could not ask for any more from our guys. The effort was maxed out."

This was a low scoring game and that probably favored Stone, but by the way they were hurrying up and down the floor, it did not appear that they were trying to slow the game down. The score was tied at seven after one period and the Panthers trailed 20-18 at halftime as Taylor Kiser had scored eight of the Stone points, playing tough in the paint.

Will Ballard had a good game for Stone as he scored eight points for the Panthers and had a gem of a defensive game against Anderson County point guard Jordan Rorex. Buck said, "This was one of Will's best efforts ever. He played with swagger and had the point guard wondering what to do."

One thing that hurt the Panthers on this night was ineffectiveness from long range. Stone had been doing well from beyond the line but could only muster one trey in this game. Bradley Sherrill is usually good for three or four from outside and Buck said, "Brad is our number one threat from outside and they did a good job on him." He added, "If we can keep our big guys playing like they are and also hit from the outside at the same time we can do very well. Balance is such a key for us."

In addition to Ballard's eight points, Taylor Kiser scored 12 to lead the Panthers, Cameron Fox pitched in eight, Tyler Crowder seven, Dustin Melton and Zack Sherrill five each and Bradley Sherrill was held to two points.

The Panthers will now host Carter on Saturday with the game set to tip off at 7 p.m.