|1,000 victories and counting: OC girls knock off No. 1 GC |
Obion Central’s victory over No. 1-ranked Gibson County was truly one for the ages.
Obion Central’s Gentry Reedy drives to the basket during the Lady Rebels’ 65-57 victory over No. 1 Gibson County Tuesday night.
And it had nothing to do with the Lady Rebels knocking off the state’s top Class 2A team.
More significantly, third-ranked OC’s 65-57 triumph over the Lady Pioneers Tuesday night represented the 1,000th win in the illustrious 47-season history of Obion County Central girls’ basketball.
The milestone accomplishment is the latest noteworthy achievement for a program that has produced 20-win seasons 30 times and made 13 previous trips to the state tournament. Central’s all-time record in girls’ hoops is now 1,000-341 —a winning percentage of .745 — supporting the notion that the program is perennially among the most successful in both West Tennessee and the state.
Though he downplayed the significance of a matchup of highly-rated clubs beforehand, Lady Rebel skipper Eddie Suiter attempted no such coachspeak following OC’s historic victory Tuesday.
“I am so proud and so honored to have been a part of the history that is Obion Central girls’ basketball,” said Suiter, the 10th person to hold the title of head coach in the OCCHS female hoop annals. “I got to coach the last game in the old gym, the first game in our new gymnasium and now tonight when the program got its 1,000th win.
“Not that I think that I had much of anything to do with it, but this is awesome, history-wise. I’m very lucky.”
That the Lady Rebels avenged their only loss of the season against Gibson County and did so without injured senior standout Jana Roney was simply icing on the cake for OC.
Central (17-1, 5-1) is now just a half game behind GC (16-2, 6-1) in the race for the regular season District 13AA championship after running its win streak to 10 games and halting the Lady Pioneers’ victory string at 13 straight.
With Roney a spectator on the Rebel bench, the trio of Chassidy Fussell (24) and sisters Aubrey (22) and Gentry (12) Reedy combined for 58 points, and OC used an 11-3 surge to start the fourth quarter to erase a slim deficit and get some payback for an earlier 65-49 loss to the Lady Pioneers.
Fussell, battling tendinitis in both knees, had 10 of her game-high point total down the stretch, while Aubrey Reedy more than picked up the slack for Roney’s absence inside by being a dominant presence in the paint. The two combined to make 15-of-22 field goals and 13-of-15 from the foul line.
Gentry Reedy, meanwhile, accounted for all her markers via four 3-pointers, three coming in the second period when OC threatened to blow the game open by assuming its largest lead — nine points.
Gibson County clawed back to within striking distance (34-30), however, on a 3-pointer by Jeniqua Jennings just before halftime and used a 10-2 flurry to open the second half to take a 40-36 lead after back-to-back buckets by Heather Butler. There were four other lead changes before the third quarter ended with the Lady Pioneers up by a slim 50-48 margin.
Aubrey Reedy’s old-fashioned 3-point play with just under six minutes remaining represented the last of 10 lead swaps and put Central up for good at 55-53.
A trio of critical defensive stops in the fourth quarter that resulted in Lady Rebel steals — two by Gentry Reedy and the other by Bethany Butler — were as critical as any made shot, according to Suiter.
“Those were big possessions. There have been times this season when we’ve relaxed on defense after making a bucket on the offensive end, but that wasn’t the case tonight,” the OC coach claimed.
“With Jana (Roney) out, we just needed everybody to do their jobs, and they did. We don’t need to, nor do we have to, rely on just one person. Everybody stepped up tonight when we needed them to, and that’s what made it a really good win for us.”
Gibson Co. 73, OC 60 (B)
The defensive intensity that had become the trademark of a Rebel team that was 12-5 overall and 4-1 in 13AA play coming in, was not in evidence in a disappointing nightcap showing.
GC (6-9, 2-5) avenged an earlier double-overtime loss to Central by attacking inside with regularity and great success in the first half, then shooting down OC’s comeback bid with 3-pointers by Hamilton Hudson and Demarian Mays in the final half-minute of the third quarter when the Rebs made their only serious run.
“It all starts for us on the defensive end,” Obion Central coach Bill Kail said afterward. “We didn’t fulfill our assignments and that led to some easy transition baskets for them. We did a lot of standing around.”
Gibson County led throughout the contest, by 10 (34-24) at the half and by as many as a dozen (43-31) halfway through the third stanza. OC did get as close as 47-40 with 1:24 showing when a Brady Boucher steal led to Brandon Smith’s layup, but Hudson and Mays then drained treys on the final two possessions of the period to make it 52-40.
The difference was never less than double figures the rest of the way.
“The thing that’s the most disappointing is that we had the biggest crowd of the year in here and all of our junior highs, and we pick this night have one of our poorest efforts of the season,” Kail added.
Nick Gilliam scored 21 points and Justin Owens added 11 to lead the Rebels.
Mays, whom Kail said didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting, topped all point-producers with 22 markers for the victors.
Obion Central plays at Milan Friday night.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.