By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
Bulldogs can sometimes ground Falcons.
Whitney Saunders fired in 22 points and energized Southwest District-leading Tazewell just enough to guide the Lady Bulldogs (10-6, 3-0) to a 62-57 SWD win over a battling Abingdon team that pressed the issue right to the final minute.
Taylor Blevins carried the load for the Lady Falcons (6-10, 1-2) as she had a complete game and led all scorers with 23 for AHS.
Tazewell jumped away to an early 17-10 lead but Abingdon used Blevins’ consistency and steady play from Madison Ball to stay close, trailing 33-23 at the break.
Good pressure and missed lay-ups by THS, combined with opportune buckets by the Falcons’ Big Two kept the issue in doubt. Abingdon got to within four points, 48-44, with 5:54 left.
Saunders then raced down the lane, nailed the glass and followed with a free throw on the next THS possession. Blevins rose to the occasion and scored back-to-back buckets before Saunders again answered with a Bulldog basket at the 2:11 mark.
Blevins made one more score from the baseline but a pair of smart plays by Kaley Holloway and two final paint points from Essence Brown finally sealed the deal.
Kate Snapp’s all-out effort at both ends of the floor was the foundation for Tazwell’s quick start. Rebounding, blocking shots, and going inside for Tazewell, the senior post player made the early difference.
Saunders stepped in to keep the heat turned up in the second stanza. Taylor Blevins battled gamely, getting some tough shots inside for 10 first half points to keep Abingdon within striking distance.
Tazewell sparkled with a 16-for-22 effort at the free throw line and Abingdon was almost as good, 15-of-22.
“We played hard tonight,” said Snapp. “This was a big game for us. We had to win this to get ready for Richlands up next.”
Saunders, often taking the point on offense, playing solid defense inside and going to the board with the ball, was the straw that stirred the drink for much of the evening.
“We wanted to win,” grinned the jubilant junior. “We played hard as a team. We got some good play inside, Kate (Snapp) worked hard all game. Abingdon really stayed in there with us. We couldn’t pull away from them but we did what we had to do to win. I’m proud of all my teammates.”
Coach Jason Southworth said, “It was a scrappy ball game all the way around. We played really well. The game was full of runs but we were able to handle their runs, and pressure, for the most part. Whitney came up big for us several times. So did Kate.
“It took the whole team. I’m proud of everybody.”
Taylor Catron dropped in 13 points for Tazewell and Brown added 9 more. Snapp scored 6 and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Morgan Turner added 10 points for Abingdon and Audrey Billips popped in 10 for the Lady Falcons.
Abingdon hosts Marion Friday and Tazewell travels to Richlands Thursday.
At Tazewell Middle School
ABINGDON (6-10, 1-2)
Olivia Ball 2, Madison Ball 6, Morgan Turner 10, Taylor Blevins 23, Leanna Toler 2, Ashleigh Cornell 4, Audrey Billips 10.
TAZEWELL (10-6, 2-0)
Kaylee Holloway 3, Whitney Saunders 22, Taylor Catron 13, Kate Snapp 6, Ally Lee 4, Bri Sparks 5, Essence Brown 9.
Abingdon.........................12 11 15 19 — 57
Tazewell...........................17 16 13 16 — 62
Three-point goals — AB, none. TAZ 2 (Catron 1, Sparks 1). Fouled out – none.