Cumberland Gap downed at Grainger Co.

Cumberland Gap High School loaded the bus Jan. 23 and made the trip across Clinch Mountain and down into Rutledge to do basketball battle with Grainger County High School.

First on the floor was the junior varsity boys and the Grizzlies used the opening two periods of play to assume a lead and pull away to a six-point lead at the half, 36-30. The Panthers stormed out of the locker room and grabbed the lead at 37-36. The Panther run gave them a six point lead after three periods of play, 47-41. Grainger pulled to within five points but the Gap was able to seal the victory, 60-50. Leading the Panthers in scoring was Jake Templin with 20 and Nathan Fuson with 14. Brady Grubb led the Grizzlies with 17.

The next game was the varsity girl’s game and the visiting Lady Panthers had their hands full with a very good Lady Grizzlies team. The Lady Grizz scored the first 15 points while shutting out the Lady Panthers. Cumberland Gap scored the first basket of the second period but failed to slow down the Lady Grizz attack. At the half, Grainger led 34-4. Cumberland Gap began shooting up the threes but didn’t have the success they wanted. With under four minutes left in the third, the Lady Grizz went to their bench but still stayed out front going into the final period leading 50-12. To their credit, the Lady Panthers never stopped playing but lost the game by the final score of 55-18. Leading the Lady Grizzlies in scoring was Haley Cramer with 13. Leading the Lady Panthers was Hayli England with six. Kayli Hinckley and Hannah Heath finished with three points each. Three others had two including Kamorah Rhylick, Tabitha Roy and Haley Wilson.

Up next was the much anticipated boys game. The Panthers defeated the Grizzlies in an instant classic during the first meeting and Grainger was ready to get revenge. It was easy to tell that these teams didn’t like each other much as the physical play and vocal jabs began early. Coach Ernie Mac Clawson had his team packed deep on the blocks trying to make Grainger have to shoot mid-range or longer shots. The Grizzlies were able to shoot well enough to open up a 12-6 lead. After one period of play it was the home team holding the advantage at 15-6. The Grizzlies started making the threes and were able to extend their lead out to 10 points at 27-17 but they weren’t quite able to get rid of the Panthers yet. Around the three minute mark of the third, the Grizzlies’ fan base was becoming quiet as the Gap was storming back and had the lead down to four points. Grainger withstood the onslaught and led after three periods, 35-28. The Panthers had the score down to three but the Grizzlies made their final run and got ahead by nine points. With 2:03 Grainger held an 11 point lead that gave them the advantage needed to escape with a seven point win, 49-42.

Leading the Panthers in the loss was Kaleb Franklin with 12 and Jacob Bullins with 10 points. Jayson Upton was held to six points along with Nich Neverstitch. Miles Cole and Evan Jackson both dropped in three points and Trey Turner rounded out the scoring with two. Dalton Conn led the Grizzlies with 21 and Marquice Fifield had 15 points.