Little did she know at the time, but that would be the Lady Cougars’ last championship until Friday night — in Kristi Moody Walling’s first year as a head coach.
Sullivan Central’s girls used a blowout third quarter to secure a 57-33 win over Elizabethton, earning them the Three Rivers Conference championship at Treadway Gym.
Central finished 10-2 in league play, outdistancing Unicoi County and Sullivan South by one game. The Lady Cyclones ended with a 4-8 conference mark.
Walling said her players looked at this as a possibility in their first season transitioning from the Class AAA Big Seven Conference to the Class AA league.
“It was something we kind of talked about at the beginning of the season,” said Walling. “It was a goal we set, and we kind of kept that in our mind all year. Coming into a new conference we didn’t really know what to expect. We knew this conference was tough. It was something we really wanted. Central’s girls hadn’t done this in a long time.”
Perhaps Central wasn’t comfortable with its 12-point halftime lead as the Lady Cougars came out smoking hot. They outscored Elizabethton 23-2 in the period to take a 52-19 edge into the fourth quarter.
“The third quarter is something we’ve really tried to focus on in the second half of the season,” said Walling. “At halftime we talked about having a good first half, but we still had 16 minutes of basketball left.”
LEADING THE WAY
Sullivan Central (14-9 overall) got a superb effort from Peyton Sams. She worked her way to 18 points.
“Peyton is a phenomenal basketball player,” said Walling.
Sams’ teammate Abbey Crawford scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half. Avery Leming chipped in with 10 points.
For Elizabethton, Destiny Little and Camryn Koroma each totaled eight points. The Lady Cyclones finished the regular season with a record of 9-18.