BY TATE RUSSELL
SUN SPORTS WRITER
The Greeneville girls turned up the pressure on defense and it was too much for Cumberland Gap to handle as the Lady Devils cruised to a 69-23 blowout win in District 2-AA action Friday night.
"We had lots of energy and came out believing in our defense," Greeneville head coach Annette Watts said. "Anytime our defense is rolling, it certainly helps our offense. That defensive effort was big, because we know that our defense is what wins ball games for us."
The Greeneville guards applied ball pressure for three quarters of the court all night long and made it tough for the Lady Panthers (1-15, 0-5) to get the ball past the time line. When Gap was able to cross the mid-court stripe there was rarely anywhere for the ball to go as Greeneville's posts locked down the lane.
The interior play of Madison Shipley, Melissa Scott, Regan Lowery and Megan Lamb stymied the Lady Panthers' offense in the paint and controlled the boards to take away second-chance points.
Greeneville (12-8, 4-1) held Cumberland Gap to just two points in the paint in the first half and four in the second half.
The only thing that worked with any consistency for Cumberland Gap on offense was the three ball, and most of those came when an outlet pass escaped the half-court trap, leaving a shooter alone along the wing.
Greeneville started the game quickly, taking an 18-3 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Devils spread the attack around with six different girls scoring in the first period.
That was the theme for most of the night for Greeneville, who only dresses nine players. Every one of their nine players played significant minutes and all were impactful in the win.
Katelynn Hadjopuolos came off of the bench late in the first quarter and nailed a three-pointer to start the second quarter, giving the Lady Devils their seventh scorer, and by the end of the first half everyone on the roster had scored.
"It was absolutely a balanced effort," Watts said. "When you look through our scoring, it was there. When you look through the steals, it was there. Rebound were there."
"That is what you see from teams that move forward, they have everybody contributing. Our nine is a solid nine."
Shipley led the way on offense with 14 points while Lowery came off the bench to put in 10.
Greeneville did not allow Cumberland Gap to make its second field goal of the game until there was 4:09 remaining in the first half.
The second quarter was the most productive for the Lady Panthers as they put in 11 points, almost half of their total for the night. Chelsea Bingham hit two three-pointers and scored all eight of her team-high eight points in the period.
A layup by Scott just over a minute into the second period put Greeneville up 25-4 and after that point Greeneville's lead never sank below 20 points.
Forty seconds into the second half Shipley rolled in a scoop shot to make it a 30-point game for the rest of the way.
Cumberland Gap was held to single digit scoring in three of their four quarters.
With time waning, Madison Grubbs laid the final shot off the glass to put Greeneville up by 46 and tripled their opponent's score.
Grubbs finished the night with nine points.
The win gives the Lady Devils some positive momentum as they continue a tough stretch of district competition. The Cumberland Gap game was the first of four consecutive district games for Greeneville, who is at this point sitting in second place behind Grainger in the standings.
DEVILS Roll, 78-44
The Greeneville boys have had a lot of scoring from a lot of different players this season and that was no different Friday night against Cumberland Gap.
Matt Miller came off of the bench and rifled in 16 points for the Greene Devils (14-7, 5-0) as they went on to beat Cumberland Gap (7-12, 0-5) 78-44.
"Matt's contribution was big, and the thing about him is probably for about the last month now he has stayed after practice every day and shoots and shoots and shoots," Greeneville coach Brad Woolsey said. "That work has paid off and I was real pleased with Matt today."
The senior guard was not even on the team last year but as this season has progressed he has proven he can be a real weapon behind the arc for Greeneville. Miller knocked down four threes in the contest and shot 75 percent from the floor.
"He has really helped us out this year, and the thing about Matt is, he's not just a shooter, he can really handle the basketball. He has really worked on improving his ball handling and we're just happy to have Matt be a part of our team," Woolsey said.
The Devils started the game quickly, outscoring Cumberland Gap 24-8 in the first quarter in large part due to perimeter shooting. Miller hit two three-pointers in the quarter while Hays Culbreth and J.J. Benjamin added one each.
Culbreth finished the game with 10 points and six assists while Benjamin scored nine.
The pace slowed in the second quarter and Greeneville went into intermission up 35-19. Thomas Burkey came off the bench to lead Greeneville with five points in the quarter.
Greeneville made it a 20-point game at 55-35 as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter when Miller drained a fade away triple from way down town.
In the fourth quarter, a lineup made up of largely reserves for Greeneville outscored the Panthers 23-9. Raheem Young led the way with six fourth-quarter points on his way to a 12-point night.
The win keeps Greeneville in the lead in District 2-AA, but with three more district games coming up next week they will have to bring it every night to hold that spot.
"Winning a conference game is always good and winning it big is always good, but I can't say I feel great about how we played," Woolsey said. "But when you don't play real well and still win by 30, that's always good. We have a huge week next week and I feel like our guys are going to get it going for that."