The Lady Indians discarded their pattern of a slow start with a terrific first half Friday night, taking it to a good Sullivan Central squad and claiming a 67-35 nonconference victory at the Buck Van Huss Dome.
Six-foot senior forward Courtney Whitson did the heavy lifting as usual, nailing three 3-pointers in the first half while scoring 15 of her game-high 22 points and pushing the Tribe to a commanding 33-9 advantage at intermission.
Central had battled D-B much closer last month, losing 62-48 in Blountville.
“The difference tonight was on the defensive end, where we had talked about some things we wanted to do to take away some of their strengths,” said D-B coach Bill Francis. “The kids really bought in and they executed it.
“Sometimes you talk about stuff that doesn’t get done, but tonight I felt the kids understood what we wanted. And that’s part of growing as a team: understanding concepts and terminology and learning to trust your teammates, that they’ll do their job defensively so you can focus on doing your job.”
LET’S NOT WAIT
In recent games against David Crockett and Greeneville, D-B endured some first-half struggles, but Francis is hoping those less-than-perfect moments helped build character.
Against the Lady Cougars (8-6), D-B was in tune from the start.
“Part of growing as a team is learning to battle through tough spells,” Francis said. “Individually you understand that sometimes you’ve got to find better ways to contribute, be it getting a stop on the defensive end or an offensive rebound and putback on the other end.”
Jabrea Johnson scored 12 points to back Whitson, and teammates Megan Ayers, Caitlyn Wallace and Ta-Tionna White combined for 23 off the bench.
Whitson set up Johnson for at least three buckets with nice passes inside.
Central, paced by the 11-point game of Macy McClellan off the bench, played much better in the second half.
Dobyns-Bennett (12-1) leaves Kingsport the morning after Christmas to compete in a 32-team, three-day tournament in Tampa, Fla., that will provide a terrific midseason checkup.
“We’ll be playing some really good competition, like our first game on the 27th is against their defending 9A state champion,” Francis said. “We are guaranteed three games and we’ll be tested. Hopefully we’ll continue to learn and we’ll come back here ready to take on conference play.
“I like where this bunch is right now,” he added. “I still think our ceiling is pretty high.”
FOREMAN HITS MILESTONE
Marae Foreman had a night to remember in helping the Dobyns-Bennett boys pull away late to a 72-38 handling of Sullivan Central.
A 5-foot-6 senior point guard who led all scorers with 20 points, Foreman notched the 1,000th of his career with a 21-foot jumper from the top of the key at the 2:27 mark of the fourth quarter.
Foreman was humbled to join the honor roll of one of the nation’s elite programs.
“My brother (Makale Foreman) did it and so did Mello (teammate Riamello Wadsworth) just last week,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. My teammates all hugged me and that was nice.”
Charlie Browder scored 12 points for D-B (10-1), which competes in the Arby’s Classic in Bristol next week.
Ben Williams scored 12 points and Trey Rosenbalm 11 for the Cougars (7-8), who trailed 32-16 at halftime and 55-34 after three periods.