TANNER — Greg Maclin says he will never forget his final Limestone County tournament shot.
But how could he? It was the play that relieved all the tension in the building.
With Tanner leading by only three points and the championship trophy still in doubt, Maclin grabbed a steal and dunked in transition as the buzzer sounded. The play sent everyone on the Tanner High bench into celebration as the Rattlers held off rival East Limestone 59-54 Saturday in the Limestone County title game.
It was Tanner’s second straight Limestone County title.
“That’s a dunk I will never forget,” said Maclin, who is a senior guard. “It was a perfect way to end my last county tournament. Dunking at the buzzer and beating a rival in front of a huge crowd. There’s nothing else like it.”
Maclin’s teammate, Fred Rich, agreed.
“Watching it gave me goosebumps,” he said. “Everyone in here went crazy.”
As the top-ranked team in Class 2A with a talent-rich roster, Tanner has bigger goals for the season. That doesn’t mean winning a county title has lost its luster.
The Rattlers celebrated when the final buzzer sounded, and they celebrated some more after the trophy presentation, posing for photos as they cut down the net.
“Winning this, it’s a great feeling,” senior center Jace Haggermaker said. “It never gets old.”
The latest addition to Tanner’s trophy case didn’t come easy. At times, East Limestone star Jordon Gandy appeared almost unguardable. He poured in 25 points and had the Indians (15-9) within a few plays of an upset in the closing
Gandy gave East Limestone its first lead of the night midway through the fourth quarter with a tough contested jumper. He struck again with 3:44 remaining in the game, making a go-ahead layup, and then grabbing a steal on the next possession and finishing the play with a dunk in transition.
“Jordon Gandy is a great player,” Tanner coach Chris Whitt said. “He causes a lot of problems because he’s so difficult to guard. Tonight, there were stretches where we couldn’t stop him.”
Whitt wasn’t the only person in Tanner’s locker room in awe of Gandy’s performance.
“The guy can play,” Rich said. “You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. He had a great game.”
East Limestone carried a one-point lead into the final minute, but Haggermaker drained a pair of free throws with less than 30 seconds remaining to give the Rattlers the lead for good.
Trailing by three in the closing seconds, East Limestone had one final attempt to tie the game, but Maclin squashed the Indians hopes with his dunk at the buzzer.
Maclin finished with 12 points. Rich led Tanner with 20 points, while Desmond Love added 13.
“That was a tough game,” Whitt said. “But with East, it always is. I’m just proud of my guys. They stepped up when it was crunch time. That’s always a good thing to see.”
As for the near future?
“Now it’s time to get to the next goal,” Rich said. “We’ve got bigger things out there. It’s time to get to the next thing on the list.”
Tanner girls 47, Clements 44: Kacie Dentleegrand couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment.
For the Tanner High forward, that’s understandable. Not only did her clutch shot in the closing minute of regulation bring a home crowd to its feet, the basket was the end of an era.
Dentleegrand made a tough shot in the lane, giving Tanner the go-ahead basket and leading the Rattlers.
Tanner’s win gives Limestone County a new girls basketball champion for the first time in six years. Clements won the previous five tournaments.
“The reaction from the crowd, it was unbelievable,” Dentleegrand said. “It was hard not get caught up in that. It was unreal.”
Clements star Daneshia Malone, who had never lost a Limestone County tournament game in her six years as a starter, almost made sure that streak remained. The Colts’ center dominated, scoring 36 points and grabbing 20 rebounds.
“Daneshia is almost impossible to guard,” Dentleegrand said. “She’s a beast down there under the basket. We had three and four players on her, we still couldn’t stop her. She’s the best I’ve ever played against.”
Tanner coach Larry Greene agreed.
“Daneshia is a great player, and we knew coming into this that she was going to get her points,” he said. “We tried several different things, and nothing worked. She’s just that good. I’m just proud of our players for finding a way. They hung in there and battled to the end. This is a great moment for them.”
But in the end, Malone’s heroics weren’t enough, even though she gave Clements two leads in the final minute.
When the game was on the line, Dentleegrand and Sydney Houston rose to the occasion. Dentleegrand scored the go-ahead basket, and Houston secured the win with a pair of clutch free throws.
Houston paced Tanner with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Dentleegrand added 12. Samara French scored 13 for the Rattlers.
“Winning this here on our home floor, it’s a great feeling,” Houston said with a wide smile. “We wanted to win this tournament for our seniors, and with the way we’re playing right now, hopefully we can keep it up and send them out on top.”
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at email@example.com.
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