JONESBOROUGH - After a remarkable season and a turnaround few saw coming, Chuckey-Doak’s postseason run came to an end after a 79-49 defeat by Gatlinburg-Pittman in the Region 1-2A semifinals on Monday night.
“We came in with a game plan we thought would work, and it did to a certain extent, but we failed to execute some things. It stings, but the good thing about it stinging is there is a higher expectation,” Chuckey-Doak head coach Kyle Donahue said.
Many people might have doubted the Lady Black Knights heading into the season, but coach Donahue’s first season as head coach was a successful one to say the least. After posting only six wins a year ago, the Lady Knights tripled that posting a final win total of 18 victories. They finished as the runner-up in the District 1-2A and Donahue took home Coach of the Year even though he would rather it be an award for his whole coaching staff as he credits a lot of their success to them.
“We may have surprised some people, but we didn’t surprise ourselves. That’s what’s important,” Donahue mentioned. “They surpassed a lot of people’s expectations for them and for our program and I couldn’t be more proud.”
When they drew the Lady Highlanders in the semifinals, they knew it would be a tough matchup. One of the top-ranked team in Class 2A with a Miss Basketball finalist in Maddy Newman.
Their main focus was to limit Newman's scoring as best as they could even though they’d get punished from the three-point line by other players on the floor.
Nya Burns started the scoring for G-P and would become a reoccurring theme all night. Burns tallied a game-high 27 points with three triples.
Adyson Ripley ran the floor and spotted up in the corner for a baseline mid-range jumper to provide Chuckey-Doak’s first basket.
Shilah Whaley came right back down the floor with a layup immediately after. Burns decided to take over early with three layups in less than a ten-second span to extend their lead to nine points.
Saniah Atchison let it rain with a three-point bucket for Chuckey-Doak, but the Lady Knights trailed 18-9 after the first quarter.
Leah Stinnett stripped the nets for a triple in transition and launched another three-pointer from downtown a couple of possessions later to give the Lady Highlanders their largest so far at 24-12. Stinnett’s hit five three-pointers in the second quarter.
Atchison scored on back-to-back possessions with a three-point bomb and a transition layup to give the Lady Knights a quick five-point run.
Stinnett and Burns kept firing away from long range with another pair of threes from outside the arc.
Taliah Johnson helped give Chuckey-Doak a boost with a layup, but Stinnett could not seem to miss from beyond the perimeter with two more three-point buckets.
“We just let the wrong people get hot at the wrong time,” Donahue expressed.
After a 12-0 run from Pittman, the Lady Knights ended their scoreless drought with a layup from Kennedy Brown after a stolen inbounds pass.
Gatlinburg-Pittman held a 41-25 advantage at the half.
Maddy Newman was held without a single field goal and only two points in the first half. She finally got a basket to fall with a layup in the paint early in the third quarter.
Graycee Valentine and Burns kept torturing the Lady Knights with another pair of three-pointers.
Atchison fought through a foul to down a layup, but would miss the free throw afterwards, but the Lady Highlanders went into the fourth quarter holding a 64-37 lead.
Courtnee Jones and Ripley made two early back-to-back mid-range shots in the fourth quarter.
Newman then sprinted through the lane with ease on her way to securing a layup for Gatlinburg before Stinnett hit her sixth and final three-point bomb of the night.
Atchison also had herself a hot shooting night with her third triple of the contest.
Burns tallied a game-high 27 points. Stinnett fired away and hit six three-pointers on her way to a 23-point night. Newman was held to nine points.
The Lady Knights were led by Saniah Atchison with 16 points.
“Overall, when you look back at the season, we’re super proud of our girls. Super proud of the growth they’ve had. A lot of it is the same players. They’ve just gotten better individually and gotten better as a group,” Coach Donahue expressed.
Chuckey-Doak finishes with a record of 18-15.