Gunter sweeps Pottsboro, maintains grip on 1st
GUNTER — The last time they squared off, Pottsboro and Gunter went down the wire and neither side offered much to the other in trying to light up the scoreboard.
While there was no last-second shot needed in the rematch, points were still at a premium.
“That was the mindset for both of us — a total defensive mindset,” Gunter head coach Katie Stinton said. “When you both play half-court man, there’s not a lot of possessions. You know the score is going to be low."
The Lady Tigers did just enough to remain undefeated in the District 11-3A standings by beating Pottsboro, 36-27, and dropping the Lady Cardinals from second to third place heading into the final three games of the season.
Alyssa Tarpley scored 12 points, Rhyan Pogue added nine points and Sarah Putnicki and Taylor Boddie each finished with seven points for Gunter (19-5, 11-0), which plays at Howe on Friday night.
Hannah Fellinger had 16 points, Autumn Graley added seven points and Hadley Williams chipped in four points for Pottsboro (18-4, 8-3), which hosts Bonham on Friday.
Pottsboro still moved to the verge of a playoff spot despite the loss; the Lady Cardinals need just one more win and either a Bells win or a Leonard loss to seal their ninth straight berth.
Gunter has its sights set on finishing with an undefeated district run but can clinch the outright 11-3A title and the top seed for the first time since 2013 with one more win and a Whitewright loss. Those two finish the season against each other next Friday night but Gunter still has Howe and Leonard before then.
“We’ve got two very good teams coming up that played us well. It’s about getting the kids prepared,” Stinton said. “We want them to stay locked in and finish strong.”
It looked like Gunter was going to break the game open as Boddie scored on a drive and Putnicki converted on consecutive possessions to pump the lead to 15 at 34-19 with just over six minutes remaining.
The Lady Tigers managed just two points the rest of the way but the cushion was enough. Fellinger scored with just under two minutes left and Pottsboro was down 11. The Lady Cards had three chances to get within single-digits and have enough time left to make it count. By the time Fellinger scored with 15 seconds left for the final margin, it was too late.
The third quarter was scoreless until Graley connected on a pair of free throws with 4:43 on the clock. She made another to get the margin down to five before Pogue’s three ended the Lady Tigers’ drought just shy of six minutes.
Fellinger had an answer but Gunter netted the final three points, including a Tarpley drive in the closing seconds to make it 28-19.
Gunter got the second quarter started with buckets from Tarpley and Putnicki but then managed only a free throw over the next four minutes.
The Lady Cardinals weren’t much better as Fellinger’s jumper to make it a 15-10 contest was Pottsboro’s only points for the first six-and-half minutes of the quarter.
Pogue and Boddie hit three-pointers as Gunter extended its lead to double digits for the first time before Graley made it 22-14 on a layin with 35 seconds remaining in the half.
The first-half margin was mostly due to long-range shooting. Pottsboro didn’t hit a three while making just seven shots while Gunter hit eight shots and four of them were three-pointers.
“That was a big part of the game plan. We had to guard against the three better than the first game,” Stinton said. “They’ve got enough shooters to spread you out.”
Pottsboro missed its first eight shots, finally getting on the board in the middle of the first thanks to a Fellinger turnaround jumper. But the Lady Cardinals were only down 7-2 at that juncture as Gunter struggled with turnovers. The Lady Tigers committed seven in the first quarter and Pottsboro hung around.
Pogue knocked down a three and Putnicki followed with a free throw to make it an 11-4 advantage but Fellinger and Graley hit shots in the final minute to trim the margin to 11-8 at the end of the opening quarter.