By Carey Phillips
Hanna Cannon scored 25 points leading undefeated Rabun County, Georgia to a 77-57 non-conference women’s basketball victory at Smoky Mountain on Dec. 30.
Sophie Woodard and Laken Stiles added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Lady Wildcats.
Natalie Parris paced the Lady Mustangs with 19 points, and Lucy McRae had 10.
“I actually had them pegged not to be as good as they were last year, but I think they made up for what they lost offensively on defense,” Coach Ollin Dunford said. “They forced us into a lot of turnovers (26).”
Rabun scored the game’s first 13 points in the opening three minutes. Cannon hit a trio of three-pointers in that spurt.
“We ended up having a decent rest of the half and got within seven,” Dunford said. “They pulled away in the fourth quarter. We have to find some positives about these games. They are ranked second in Georgia in their classification. They have a great program. We want those types of teams to set the bar for where we need to be.”
Melanie Hoyle’s basket capped a 10-2 run as SM cut the gap to 15-10 at the 1:06 mark, and the score was 19-12 at the quarter break.
The Lady Wildcats reeled off 11 straight points, the last five by Cannon, for a 37-20 advantage with 2:45 to play in the half.
The Lady Mustangs closed the period on a 12-2 spurt, including six by Parris, to trail 39-32.
Rabun opened the second half with seven straight points to lead 46-32 on Stiles’ basket at the 6:20 mark.
The margin was 56-43 entering the fourth quarter.
Woodard scored six in a 10-2 run for a 69-50 lead with 3:51 on the clock.
The biggest lead was 77-55 when Cannon scored with 48 seconds to go.
Parris hit seven field goals, including a three-pointer, and four foul shots. McRae made two field goals and six free throws.
Aubrie Miller and Hannah Huddleston both finished with eight points, Allison Macke added five, Kyra Fowler scored three and Kevonna Tushka and Melanie Hoyle both had two.
Hoyle was the top rebounder with 10.
Fowler was playing her first game of the season. She missed all but four games last year while recovering from a hip injury.
The Lady Mustang JVs won 45-43. Xalia Spencer scored 14 points, including the game-winning basket. Aiden Nicholson, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds, hit the tying basket.
Rabun led at quarter breaks by scores of 14-11, 33-24 and 40-37 before SM came from behind.
“I was expecting us to come out a little rusty since we had been off for over a week, but the girls surprised me,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “The whole team showed a lot of fight and heart, and it was just fun to watch. I was impressed with how well we executed things, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We went into halftime on a sour note being down nine, but there was not an ounce of panic after half. Our defense stepped up and held Rabun to 10 points in the second half. We found ways to beat the pressure, got some big stops on defense and really fought our way to the basket every time down the floor.”