BY ADAM GREENE
GREENEVILLE - A dominant performance from Chuckey-Doak Wednesday night at Hal Henard Gymnasium just might turn around their season. The Black Knights crashed the boards, hit the shots and controlled the ball in a 64-48 win over Charlotte (N.C.) Christian in the first round of the LandAir Ladies Classic.
Chuckey-Doak (5-8) didn't look like they stood much of a chance as the two teams warmed up before the game. The Lady Knights (8-2) had dropped only one game all season and had an interior, led by 6-foot-5 post Gigi Bailey, that towered over any player the Black Knights had on their roster.
"We knew we were outmatched on size so we had to come in with the bigger heart and bigger hustle," Chuckey-Doak's Hannah Riddle said. "When we saw them, I'm sure everyone got a little intimidated, but we just came together as a team and everyone chipped in."
That heart helped the Black Knights punch their ticket to round two of the tournament. Chuckey-Doak will play Rockcastle (Ky.) today at 4 p.m. Charlotte Christian will play North Greene in the consolation bracket at 2:30 p.m.
Charlotte Christian's interior of Bailey, Morgan Franklin and Chelsea Cepeda could all play. Bailey set a new Ladies Classic record with nine blocked shots. What they couldn't do is stay on the floor with the hard-charging Black Knights who kept the tempo sky-high from the opening tip-off. Bailey and the big girls from North Carolina had to hit the bench repeatedly to catch their breath.
"We pride ourselves on our conditioning," Chuckey-Doak coach Beth Frye said. "It's not fun, but it's something we know that we have to do to make us a better team. We wanted to try to take it to them and maybe get them in foul trouble and it worked out for us. The girls really stayed with the gameplan and played their hearts out tonight."
It also didn't hurt that the Black Knights had the hot hand in Andi Lamb. Lamb scored 17 points in the first half, helping Chuckey-Doak take the lead for good with a layup two minutes into the second period. Lamb finished with 29 points.
"She (Lamb) was in the zone tonight,"' Frye said. "She's such a great player and works really hard at the game. The shots were falling for her."
Lamb wasn't alone as the Black Knights put two other players in double-digits. Keri Ricker scored 10 points and Riddle narrowly missed a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals.
"By the time the game started everybody knew we could play with them," Riddle said. "You'd think it would have been an outside game, but what helped us most was our defensive game. We'd get steals and run down the floor. It was all boxing out on defense. It was rough , but sometimes the ball falls into your hands."
Though Chuckey-Doak's size disadvantage never went away even when the big three girls were off the floor for the Lady Knights, their tenacity and nose for the ball never slowed down. The Black Knights outrebounded Charlotte Christian 43-38 and forced 21 turnovers, all while holding the Lady Knights to just 29.8 percent shooting.
"We got tired of losing and finally came out and played the way we needed to." Lamb said. "It means a lot for us and hopefully it'll turn things around for us. They were bigger and stronger than us, but we had more heart."
Morgan Franklin and Kerstie Phills each scored 10 points for Charlotte Christian. Phills added seven rebounds and Franklin had six.
Though she didn't show up on the scoreboard, Alyssa Broyles showed up big on the floor for Chuckey-Doak with 11 rebounds and three steals.