Hardwood heroes tune up

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Alcoa’s Dalnitra Warren took honors for the season’s ceremonial first basket.

Maryville Lady Rebels then quickly swept past to assert control, eventually taking the opening quarter, 22-6, at the Blount Today High School Basketball Jamboree on Monday at William Blount.

With the regular season beginning in earnest for many teams next week, Alcoa, Heritage, Maryville and William Blount were each looking shake any lingering preseason jitters. The Lady Rebels got 3s from Abbie Harper and last season’s district steals champion Meredith Niethammer in the impressive quarter with the Lady Tornadoes.

"Maryville should be strong this year," Heritage coach Rick Howard said.

The second quarter saw a rematch of last year’s regular-season and district-tournament champions, with Traci Hardiman’s 3-pointer putting the Lady Mountaineers out front to stay in an eventual 13-9 decision over William Blount. Junior Christine Conner would tally from long range for the Lady Governors.

Maryville’s Rebels and Alcoa’s Tornadoes, both missing several key players still with the two school’s respective football teams in the playoffs, delivered a spirited third quarter. The Rebels pressed the Tornadoes throughout and held on to finish the period ahead, 12-11. Trey Sewell lived up to his nickname, twice connecting from downtown for Alcoa. Will Jolley found the range on a momentum-snatching 3-pointer for Maryville midway through the quarter.

The host Governors and Mountaineers didn’t disappoint in the nightcap. Michael Haynes canned a 3-pointer from the corner to pull Heritage within one inside the final minute, but William Blount made Micah Ballard’s drive seconds earlier stand up for a 15-14 win.

William Blount’s Jessica Houser and Billy Tipton claimed the halftime free-throw shooting contest, with Maryville’s Acacia Edmiston and the Governors’ Michael Thompson best in the 3-point contest.

Edmiston outdueled William Blount’s Leah Kelley in an extra-session shoot-off, during which the Lady Rebel sharpshooter went 5-for-5 from the arc, Kelly 4-of-5.

Maryville’s Pauel Ilin made it look easy in slamming his way to the win in the dunk contest, besting a pair of Rebel teammates with little trouble.

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