Maddy Newman

Gatlinburg-Pittman ‘revenge tour’ books Friday night gig in semis after 54-46 win over Smith County


MURFREESBORO – Gatlinburg-Pittman head coach Katie Moore has called it the ‘revenge tour’. The Lady Highlanders lost two games before Christmas to Sevier County and McMinn Central. Gatlinburg-Pittman avenged both losses in the second meetings of those home-and-home series.

The Lady Highlanders lost their district championship to Alcoa. They responded by drubbing the Lady Tornadoes 68-53 in the region final. Moore said that the Elite 8 game was part of the revenge tour also, as GP advanced to the Class 2A semifinals with a 54-46 win over Smith County on Thursday night.

Maliyah Glasper

Gatlinburg-Pittman’s Maliyah Glasper (23) goes up for a basket over Smith County defenders. Photo by Brian Hamilton

“I feel like we have a lot of unfinished business from last year, and we kind of, jokingly, call it the revenge tour,” Moore said after the game. “That game, not necessarily being Smith County, but the Elite 8 game, we had to get that, because it was on the tour, so we came out and we knew that the only people that were going to be beating us tonight would be Gatlinburg-Pittman.”

Leah Stinnett put the Lady Highlanders on the board first with a short jumper to make the score 2-0, which was followed by a Maddy Newman layup to push the lead to 4-0 early on.

A free throw by Merissa Spivey, followed by a layup by Airyn Enoch pulled Smith County to within 4-3 with 5:20 left in the first quarter.

A three by Chloe Collins would cap a 6-0 Smith County run, pulling the Lady Owls in front of Gatlinburg-Pittman 6-4 with 4:44 left in the period.

Stinnett converted a pair of free throws to tie the game at 6-6, followed by a Newman jumper that would give the Lady Highlanders an 8-6 advantage. Gatlinburg-Pittman would never trail again in the contest.

Maliyah Glasper scored on a fast break to push the GP lead to 10-6, but Smith’s Emry Jones sank a pair of free throws to cut the Lady Owls’ deficit to 10-8 with 2:37 left in the first.

Chloe Mejias answered with a jumper on the other end to put the Gatlinburg-Pittman in front 12-8 with just over two minutes remaining.

Chloe Mejias

Chloe Mejias (21) goes to the hoop during the Lady Highlanders’ 54-46 win over Smith County on Thursday night. Photo by Brian Hamilton

A three-pointer by Nya Burns would stretch the lead to 16-10 with less than a minute remaining. Enoch beat the buzzer with a layup to pull Smith County to within five, as the Lady Highlanders led 19-14 after one quarter.

Gatlinburg-Pittman took a 23-14 lead early in the second quarter after a layup by Burns and a jumper by Newman. Chloe Collins would answer, however, hitting a three to pull the Lady Owls to within 23-17 with 6:32 left in the period.

Stinnett nailed a three on the other end to give GP a 26-17 lead. Addi Wear then hit a triple of her own to push the Lady Highlander lead to double digits, at 29-18, with 4:31 left in the half.

Gatlinburg-Pittman would go on to outscore the Lady Owls by five in the second quarter and take a 31-21 advantage to the locker room at the half.

Chloe Collins continued her hot shooting early in the third quarter, as the junior nailed a three to cut the Lady Owls’ deficit to 31-24. A layup by Merissa Spivey would cut the Gatlinburg-Pittman halftime lead in half, as Smith County trailed just 31-26 with 4:53 left in the stanza.

The Lady Highlanders then embarked on a 7-0 run, capped by a Newman layup to stretch the lead back to 12, at 38-26, with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter.

“I was taking some, not the best choice shots at the beginning of the third and I came out of the game and the coaches told me that I needed to take control,” Newman said. “When I went back in, I tried to do that.”

Nya Burns

Gatlinburg-Pittman’s Nya Burns (10) takes a jumper over Lady Owl defenders. Photo by Brian Hamilton

Spivey converted a layup to end the run, pulling Smith County to within 10. Gatlinburg-Pittman would remain in control throughout the third quarter, however, as the Lady Highlanders took a 42-31 advantage into the final set.

Gatlinburg-Pittman took its largest lead of the game when Newman hit a layup to give the Lady Highlanders a 46-33 lead early in the fourth quarter. It appeared, at that point, as if GP would pull away comfortably.

That was not the case, however, as Smith County fought back and went on a 10-2 run to cut Gatlinburg-Pittman’s lead to 48-43 with 2:22 remaining.

During that stretch, it appeared as if the Lady Highlanders had abandoned their offense and went into more of a stalling tactic, which the Lady Owls used to their advantage by forcing turnovers and capitalizing on the other end.

“It’s a funny subject, because I absolutely hate holding the ball, because historically, we do a very poor job of it,” Moore said. “My assistants are trying to get me to do that, but I feel like every time we do that, we get very stagnant and we become kind of lackadaisical with the basketball and teams end up speeding us up and we make poor choices in that moment. When we’re in attack mode and we’re looking to score, our team is a much better team.”

Maddy Newman calmly sank two free throws with just under two minutes left to give Gatlinburg a little breathing room at 50-43. However, Enoch drained a three on the other end to cut the Lady Highlander lead to 50-46 with 1:06 remaining, which was the closest Smith County had been since the first quarter.

Leah Stinnett

Gatlinburg-Pittman’s Leah Stinnett (11) goes up for a three during the Lady Highlanders’ Elite 8 win over Smith County. Photo by Brian Hamilton

The Lady Highlanders’ defense kept the Lady Owls at bay during the final minute, however, as Smith County was unable to score, allowing Gatlinburg-Pittman to ice the game at the free throw line for a 54-46 win.

The win sends the Lady Highlanders to the Final Four for just the third time in school history and the first time since a heartbreaking semifinal loss to York in the 2022 tournament.

Maddy Newman led all scorers with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Leah Stinnett finished with 10 points for the Lady Highlanders. Point guard Nya Burns added seven points and six rebounds.

Newman, a senior and Class 2A Miss Basketball finalist, was determined to carry her team back to the semifinals after a tough loss to McMinn Central in the quarterfinals a season ago.

“Last year was a heartbreaker,” Newman said after the game. “We, obviously, didn’t want to go out first round last year, but we just had it in our minds that we needed to come here and take care of business, so I am glad that we could do it in this game.”

Gatlinburg-Pittman advanced to the semifinals in 2022, but Newman missed a potential game-winning layup at the buzzer, which sent the game into overtime, where the Lady Highlanders ultimately lost to York, which is a vendetta that Newman would like to make amends for on Friday night by taking her school somewhere it has never been before — a berth in a state championship game.

“My sophomore year, it was another heartbreaker,” Newman said. “We made it past the first round, which was only the second time in school history that we’ve ever done that, so it feels really good to be able to get there again, but we just need to be ready to go out there and take care of business again and hopefully make it further than we’ve ever gone before.”

Gatlinburg-Pittman finished the game with 16 offensive boards, while limiting Smith County to just seven, which played a large part in the win, as the Lady Highlanders’ shot just 17-percent from long range and 37-percent overall.

“Going into the game, we talked about the three things that we had to do, and that was out-rebound them, take care of the basketball and make layups,” Moore said. “That was most definitely an emphasis, and we knew that if they played us in that zone that they didn’t do a good job of boxing out of it. I think that’s what led us to the 16 (offensive rebounds), because we just harped on crash, crash, crash (the offensive glass).

Airyn Enoch led Smith County with 15 points, while Chloe Collins finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Merissa Spivey added 10 points and nine rebounds.

Gatlinburg-Pittman (35-3) will face Loretto (29-3) in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening. The Lady Mustangs disposed of two-time defending champ Westview by a score of 54-49 on Thursday afternoon.





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