BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan Central got one last rivalry win Wednesday night in what could be its final girls’ basketball game in the Dickie Warren Dome.
The Lady Cougars defeated Sullivan South 45-29 in the District 1-AA girls basketball quarterfinal at the Dickie Warren Dome. Central (17-8) will go on the road to face Elizabethton in Friday’s semifinal. If the Lady Cougars win, they will host a regional quarterfinal. Otherwise, they will be on the road the next three playoff games.
Bre Yarber led the way for the Cougars. She had 22 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in a dominating performance.
“I knew we had to come out strong,” Yarber said. “They fought hard the last time we played and we knew they would do the same. We knew the defense affects our offense and we had to play tough on the defense end. We brought the pressure tonight and I’m proud of the team for doing that.”
Yarber gave the Lady Cougars their biggest lead of the first half at 13-6 with a steal and a layup. To her point, the Lady Rebels fought back and closed within a point, 15-14, at the half.
But, the Cougars had too much firepower in the second half. Yarber’s late basket gave Central a 32-26 lead heading into the final quarter.
With the lead, Jaelyn West had blocks on back-to-back South possessions and the Cougars were on their way to victory. With a shutdown defensive effort, Central scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Emma Niebruegge scored eight points and Macy McClellan added seven for the Cougars. But, it was the other end where Central coach Kristi Walling saw an even bigger impact.
“I thought we did a better job with our defense in the second half,” Walling said. “We went to a 1-2-2 and Bre altered a lot of the passes up top. The first half, we got a little lax in our man-to-man, but we did a lot better job in the second half.”
Allie Jordan, Bradlie Warner and Madison Bailey all had six points to lead the Lady Rebels (10-13) in the final game for the South program. South trailed 30-26 late in the third quarter, but Central’s size and depth proved to be too much in the end.
Still, South coach Terry Huston was pleased with the effort which the Lady Rebels played.
“It’s been the most fun group I’ve ever coached because every time they went out there, they laid it on the line,” South coach Terry Hutson said. “They were overachievers. We asked them one day how many games before the season they thought they were going to win. One of the seniors held up a zero.
“We won our last home game and there’s something to be said. It’s just hard to swallow. Those girls have gotten better all year.”
Central’s coach talked about getting the win in the Warren Dome where she also played her high school ball.
“As a coach, I’m never satisfied, but I’m happy that we won,” Walling said. “To me personally, it means a lot to win this game. I grew up in this gym, played a lot of games in here and grew up watching games. It means a lot to me to come back here and coach this last season at Central.”