Lady Knights topple Murphy in conference title game
Murphy – For the first time since 2012, the Robbinsville Lady Knights can add "Smoky Mountain Conference Champions" to their resume.
Robbinsville (13-1, 11-1) knocked off the defending 1A state champions, the Murphy Lady Bulldogs (12-2, 10-2) on the road tonight 67-50 – picking up not only the season sweep over Murphy, but the No. 1 division seed when the N.C. High School Athletic Association begins filling out the postseason brackets Sunday.
"This is very exciting. We're definitely due for a conference championship," said Robbinsville senior Gabby Hooper, who had a 16-point game, including four 3's.
The Knights opened a quick 7-0 lead, with Hooper scoring five quick points off a pair of Yeika Jimenez assists. But Murphy later got on the scoreboard and stormed back, leading to a back-and-forth that ended with Robbinsville ahead 16-15 at the end of the segment. The Bulldogs continued to pound away in the second, building a 28-20 advantage behind the strength of 19 points across the first two quarters from Torin Rogers.
The Lady Knights struggled at the foul line in the first half – shooting 46 percent (6-of-13) from the line – but Robbinsville later paused to regroup during a timeout and promptly went on a 10-0 run to finish the half, capped off by Desta Trammell draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The sophomore point guard's final tally for the night was 26 points.
"We might not always get the looks that we want, but we can always play hard defense," Trammell said of the turnaround. "Hard defense creates offense."
"We knew that we did not want to lose; we wanted to leave everything out there," Hooper explained. "We knew our defense was the most important thing."
Robbinsville widened its lead to 49-38 in the third and if not for Murphy's Kaiya Pickens hitting a 3 at the horn, the Lady Knights would have carried the 11-point nod into the fourth. But the Knights were not deterred, with stout defense from Kensley Phillips outside and Halee Anderson inside keeping the Lady Bulldogs reeling throughout the final eight minutes.
Trammell would go a perfect 10-for-10 at the charity stripe in the stanza.
"'Champions' sounds really good," Trammell said. "The fact that it hasn't happened in a while – and seeing all our hard work pay off – feels so good.
"I feel like this is the start of a big run for us, but we haven't peaked yet; we can be so much better. We just have to keep working and not let up."
"We feel great. I definitely feel like we can make a long run – and even, win state, for sure," Hooper added. "We definitely have a great opportunity.
"We beat last year's state champions twice this year and if we play the way we can play, we can win state, for sure."
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Scoring for Robbinsville:
Desta Trammell, 26
Gabby Hooper, 16
Yeika Jimenez, 11
Halee Anderson, 7
Kensley Phillips, 6
Dallas Garrett, 1
Scoring for Murphy:
Torin Rogers, 27
Kaiya Pickens, 8
Sarah Pullium, 8
Amber Martin, 5
Lochlan Rogers, 2