BY DARREN REESE
SUN SPORTS EDITOR
NEW TAZEWELL - The Chuckey-Doak girls were playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder Friday night in the opening round of the District 2-AA tournament.
Claiborne head coach Misty Cooper said earlier this week that the better team didn't necessarily win when Chuckey-Doak defeated the Lady Bulldogs 57-54 back on January 11.
But after Friday night, the Lady Knights are still playing, while Cooper and her squad are done for the year.
Sophomore Andi Lamb scored 22 and No. 4 seed Chuckey-Doak rallied from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter to come out on top of a slugfest over the fifth-seeded Lady Bulldogs on their home court.
The Lady Knights advance to take on the tournament's top seed and the state's No.1 ranked Class AA team, Grainger, tonight at 7 p.m.
"Coach Frye printed off what their coach had said (in the newspaper) and gave it to us," Lamb said. "It was definitely in our minds. We just came together and did the better job tonight."
The game was back and forth the entire way, with the score separated by just one point at the end of each of the first three quarters.
Claiborne opened up a 55-49 lead three minutes into the fourth period and led by three as late as the 2:55 mark. The Lady Bulldogs wouldn't score again the rest of the game, though.
Hannah Riddle scored a basket, and then immediately came up with a steal at half court, which led to an easy breakaway for Taylor Campbell to put Chuckey-Doak up 59-58.
The Lady Knights forced a pair of turnovers down the stretch and effectively worked the clock to help maintain the slim lead.
A free throw by Kerri Ricker made it a two-point game with 46 seconds left, and Riddle followed with another steal and took it all the way for a lay-up to make the final score.
"Claiborne gives us matchup
problems and they play so hard," Chuckey-Doak head coach Beth Frye said. "Their big girl inside (Dakota Turner) was hard for us to handle."
"We knew it was going to require a team effort if we were going to win and that's what we got. Everyone contributed to this."
Turner finished with 24 points and almost single-handily powered the Lady Bulldogs in the early going. She came out of the gates red hot, scoring 14 first-quarter points, and Claiborne led 19-18 after one.
Turner cooled off in the second quarter, making just one shot, and Chuckey-Doak moved in front 28-27 at the half.
The two teams traded leads on a couple of occasions in the third quarter. Haley Bolden scored eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, in the frame to keep Claiborne in front, 48-47 heading into the final frame.
Bolden finished with 16 points in the contest.
Lamb got off to a red-hot start as well, scoring 10 in the first quarter, in a battle of size underneath with Turner.
But Chuckey-Doak got help from a number of different girls in one of their most balanced scoring efforts of the season.
Riddle finished with nine points in the victory, while Campbell, Ricker and Katie Lawson contributed eight points apiece.
When asked about the prospects of play Grainger for a third time this season, Lamb said, "Any team can be beaten on any given night. We just have to come out and play our best game of the season."
Chuckey-Doak is the only District 2-AA team to play Grainger within single digits this season. The Lady Knights fell to the state's top team 65-56 back on December 14. The Lady Knights are also the last team from the district to beat Grainger, coming in Region 1-AA tournament finals a year ago.