BY TATE RUSSELL
SUN SPORTS WRITER
The South Greene girls led No. 7 seed Cumberland Gap by just three points after the first quarter of their District 2-AA tournament opener Thursday night.
But suddenly things started to click for the second-seeded Lady Rebels, and they did so in a big way.
South Greene exploded in the middle two quarters, including a 33-point outburst in the third, and went on to cruise to an 86-40 victory over the Lady Panthers at Claiborne High School.
"We made a few adjustments at half time and our girls really responded to what we wanted to do," South Greene coach Stephen Gregg said. "We made adjustments and our defense created our offense in the third quarter."
The Lady Rebels averaged one point every 14 seconds in the third quarter as their dominating press resulted in quick buckets at the other end. The longest South Greene went without scoring in the third quarter was a 1:14 stretch sandwiched between two Maelyn Cutshaw jumpers.
Cutshaw led the Lady Rebels with 20 points in the contest.
The defensive effort from South Greene was equally impressive as their three-quarter court pressure allowed only six Cumberland Gap points in the third. The pressure was so effective that the Lady Panthers seemingly turned the ball over more often than they crossed the mid-court stripe.
Cheyenne Upton was the recipient of most of the Lady Rebels defensive successes as she ran the court to the tune of 13 third-quarter points. Upton finished the game with 17. Ashton Wykle scored all eight of her points in third period.
The Lady Panthers were able to keep it close in the first quarter, using their size advantage and ability to get into the lane to make it a 15-12 game after one period. Cutshaw kept South Greene in front in the first quarter by opening the game with eight points.
"Cumberland Gap came out and shot the ball well, and we started a little loose," Gregg said. " Some of that was probably first game jitters."
The Lady Rebels flipped the switch in the second quarter when Alora Ricker laid one off the glass then sank a trey from the right wing before the Lady Panthers could even blink.
The offense began to click for South Greene in the second quarter as they reeled off 25 points, led by Ricker who dropped in 11 points in the period and finished with 18.
Gregg sat his starters the entirety of the fourth quarter, allowing his bench to earn some valuable postseason experience. Sophomore Rachel Crum scored seven points in the final period as part of a 10 point night.
Whitney Elliott was the only Lady Panther in double figures with 10 points.
The win advances South Greene to the district semi-finals where they will take on the winner of tomorrow's West Greene, Greeneville matchup Saturday at 4 p.m. The Lady Rebels have also secured themselves a spot in the region tournament.
Gregg said, "We played a tough, grueling schedule all year and this is what we played it for, tournament time. We need our kids to step up and get ready for a challenge as we go through the postseason."