The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 14, 2014

UPDATED: Tanner wins battle of top-ranked teams (WITH VIDEO)

By Jonathan Deal

WEST LIMESTONE — By Jonathan Deal

Zane Griffin’s 3-pointer bounced harmlessly off the rim as time expired and Tanner hung on for a 42-41 win over West Limestone Tuesday. Griffin had just hit a 3-point basket to pull his team within a point with 19 seconds to play, but couldn’t do it a second time as the buzzer sounded.

“I thought that last shot was going to be nothing but net,” said Tanner head coach Chris Whitt after the game. “Both teams were kind of flat, but you kind of expect that at this point in the season.”

After leading most of the second half, JonJon Fletcher put Tanner ahead one final time with 1:19 remaining after West Limestone’s Hunter Morgan tied the game at 38-38. Fletcher hit both free throws on the next possession to give THS a four-point lead with 29 seconds remaining.

West Limestone led throughout the first half until Fletcher scored back-to-back buckets just before halftime to tie the game at 22-22.

Fletcher led all scorers with 19 points. Morgan was West Limestone’s leading scorer with 14 points.

2A No. 7 ranked Tanner will host Lexington for the final area game of the season Friday. West Limestone travels to Ardmore Friday.

Varsity Girls

Tanner 47

West Limestone 33

In a battle of top-ranked teams, it was Tanner that staked its claim to being the county’s best team ahead of next week’s Limestone County Tournament. The 2A No. 6-ranked Rattlers jumped out to a double-digit lead early against 4A No. 3 West Limestone.

The Lady Cats chipped away at the visitors lead with three, three-point baskets by Olivia Blankenship in the second quarter to pull within 25-17 at halftime.

Kayla Carter hit four of five free throws in the third quarter to keep West Limestone within three points entering the final quarter.

After coming within a single shot of tying the game, West had no answer for Sydney Houston in the fourth quarter. The senior scored nine of her 18 points in the final quarter as Tanner pulled away.

“She’s our go-to player,” said Tanner head coach Larry Greene. “Whether we need her to handle the ball or score a bucket late in the game, she usually comes through, especially down the stretch.”

Carter led West with 14 points while Blankenship scored 12, all on 3-pointers.

It was Tanner’s second win over West Limestone this year. THS is responsible for two of West’s six losses this season.

“They’ve got a good team,” Green said about third-ranked West Limestone. “I’m proud to get out of here with a win.”

Tanner hosts No. 4-ranked Lexington for a pivotal area game Friday while West Limestone travels to Ardmore.