By Jonathan Deal
In front of a packed crowd on its home floor, Tanner pulled off a clean sweep at the Limestone County Basketball Tournament Saturday night. The Lady Rattlers beat five-time defending champions Clements 47-44 in the first game followed by a 59-54 win over East Limestone for the boys championship.
Both championship games did not disappoint the standing room-only crowd at Tanner. In the girls final, Tanner led for most of the game before Daneshia “Lou Lou” Malone led an 8-0 run for Clements to start the fourth quarter. Malone finished with 36 points and 20 rebounds.
Once Tanner regained the lead in the final minute, Malone converted a three-point play to tie the game at 43-43 with less than a minute to play. Tanner wasted no time in retaking the lead when Kacie Dentleegrand scored with 20 seconds remaining from close range.
“That shot down there got our adrenaline pumping more and more and that’s when I knew we were going to win,” said Dentleegrand. “Lou Lou is a beast. Even when she made that shot I knew we were going to win. We deserved it.”
Clements had one final chance to tie the game with a three-pointer, but Malone’s shot banked off the backboard as time expired. Three players scored in double figures for the Lady Rattlers, led by Sydney Houston’s 16 points. Samara French scored 13 points followed by Dentleegrand’s 12.
“We wanted to come out and win it for the seniors,” said Houston . “They haven’t won it since they were playing JV. It was real important to beat Clements because we played them in the finals for 3 or 4 years now.”
The boys game was no less dramatic. A back-and-forth game saw East Limestone take its largest lead of the game at 52-49 with just over two minutes to play when Jordan Gandy stole the ball near midcourt and slammed it home. But Tanner showed why it’s the No. 1 team in Class 2A and outscored the Indians 10-2 over the final two minutes to seal the win.
“I was really concerned down three with two minutes left,” said Tanner head coach Chris Whitt. “There were momentum shifts all night long, from start to finish and we came through in the last couple of minutes. It was just a good game, good atmosphere, great basketball.”
Fred Rich led the Tanner with a team-high 20 points. Jonathan Fletcher scored 13 and Greg Maclin added 12 points for Tanner.
Gandy poured in 25 points in the losing effort for East Limestone
Watch Tanner's boys control the clock at the end Saturday's county championship:
Tanner's girls team walks off winners after a hard fought win: