Back-to-back region champs has a nice ring to it! Undefeated no more, as in Tellico Plains is now 24-1, has an even better ring to it.
The Oneida Lady Indians did two unthinkables Wednesday night in winning the Region 2-A championship on The Reservation by the score of 59-51. First, according to most pre-season prognostications the Lady Indians would not make it past round one of the district tourney, much less to the region championship. Second, no one gave them a chance to knock off an undefeated Tellico Plains team to win the ‘ship. However, this group of players seemed to miss that memo, deciding to play the games between the lines on the court versus playing them on paper.
The win boosted Oneida’s record to 23-6, including a perfect 22-0 in district and region play this season. That brings the Lady Indians to 43-1 over the past two seasons in district and region play. The victory also means Oneida will host Cloudland in a Class A sectional Saturday night at 7 p.m. on The Reservation. Please come out and send these 5 seniors out in style, blowing the roof off the gymnasium.
Coach Marv West’s usual cast of players got the job done on both ends Wednesday. It’s not always about the points, which is why we try to focus on the entire stat sheet. Leading the way offensively was the quartet of Jacey Manis, Gracie Martin, Kelsey Pike, and Katelyn Stiltner. However, they had lots of help on both ends from Emily Wisner, Caroline Bell, Raylie Bush, and Braelyn Russ. Manis and Martin would finish the night with 15 points each. Martin would also dish out a game high seven assists while pulling down five boards and recording three steals. Pike would finish the night with 13 points including three trifectas, three boards, and two assists. Stiltner just missed a double-double as she finished the game with eight points, 15 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and three blocks. It was Wisner who came up with the daggers late, burying two triples as she finished with six points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Bell knocked down a huge shot in the third, while wreaking havoc out top in the passing lanes during the first half. She also pulled down two boards and dished out two assists. Bush and Russ gave the team quality minutes on both ends of the court, helping the Lady Indians get valuable rest for their starters while taking care of the ball and extending the defense.
Oneida quickly fell behind 5-2 as Tellico Plains crashed the offensive glass before Coach West implored his girls during a timeout to box out and rebound. Message received, as the Lady Indians consistently pummeled the boards and got out in transition to stake themselves to a 16-10 lead after one. In the frame, Manis and Pike would each get to the rack for a bucket while draining a triple to score five points each. Stiltner, Martin, and Wisner would get things done on both ends of the court, crashing the glass, blocking shots, dishing out assists, and recording steals. Stiltner would power up two big buckets over the 6-footer from Tellico Plains. Martin would also score on an assist from Wisner. Although Wisner didn’t score in the frame, she would pull five big boards after the early timeout.
The Lady Indians pushed their lead to 18-10 early in the second on a Manis layup. Tellico Plains would go on a 6-2 run with a Stiltner bucket from the right low block keeping the Oneida lead at four points, 20-16. From there, the Lady Indians would close the half with a flurry as Martin hit back-to-back buckets to put her team up 25-16 as one of the shots was a big time triple. Pike would then beat the buzzer with a long-range trifecta to give Oneida their biggest lead of the night at 10, 28-18.
After ending the half on an 8-2 run, the Lady Indians opened the third period on a 10-0 run to take a commanding 38-18 lead at the 5:12 mark left to play in the frame. Leading the Tribe was Manis on the break to the tune of three quick layups on assists from Martin and Pike, Martin with a floater, and Stiltner with the power move. As all great teams do, Tellico Plains would make a quick run, pulling to within 14 points at 38-24 and leading to an Oneida timeout. The timeout righted the ship as the teams would play even the rest of the frame, allowing the Lady Indians to take a 45-31 lead into the fourth. During this time it was Bell on the block for two on an assist from Martin and Pike with two huge buckets to seize the momentum back, a left handed finish and a triple.
Tellico Plains started the fourth off with a triple to pull to within 11 points at 45-34. However, Martin had a quick answer with a stepback jumper from the corner and a pull up in the lane to extend the lead to 15 points at 49-34.
However, a quick Lady Bears spurt with Pike and Stiltner on the bench led to another Oneida timeout as the 15-point lead had been quickly cut to eight points at 49-41 with five minutes left to play. Enter big game Wisner. All she would do is bury two huge daggers from behind the arc to once again turn the tide back in Oneida’s favor, giving the Lady Indians a comfortable 55-44 lead with under two to play. From there, Wisner would assist Martin and Martin would assist Manis on layups to ice the contest, giving Oneida a 59-48 lead en route to the 59-51 victory.
ONEIDA (59): Pike 13, Manis 15, Bell 2, Martin 15, Stiltner 8, and Wisner 6.
TELLICO PLAINS (51): Hooper 6, Hollinghead 10, Hamilton 12, Ratledge 2, Stinnet 19, and Moore 2.