The Fannin County High School Rebels basketball teams hosted the “Mountain Top Holiday Classic” tournament, with both teams finishing in the Finals. The Lady Rebels finished first, beating Hiawassee Dam 48-41. The Rebels finished second, as Fannin fell, 69-43, to Excel Christian. Fannin had five players make the All-Tournament Team: Mckenzey Ryder, Molly Chandler and Lindsey Humphrey, for the Lady Rebels, Nolan “Skip” Hicks and Brandon Jordan for the Rebels.
The tournament started out with the Rebels facing Gordon Central. Both teams would get started with big runs.
The Ladies of Fannin opened up with a 16-2 run with the guys running up a quick 21-0 start to the guys’ game.
Both teams stayed on task to allow huge victories sending the Ladies (56-39) and the Rebels (61-38) into the Finals.
The Lady Rebels began the finals in a fierce battle that saw Fannin run out to an early 11-5 lead before H.D. closed the first period with a 7-2 run. The Lady Rebels led 13-12 going into the second quarter.
Fannin struggled mightily in the second quarter, scoring two total team points in the period. The Lady Rebels’ offensive woes resulted in a 22-15 deficit at halftime.
Fannin’s Hope Cochran, cut the lead to 22-18 when she opened the third quarter scoring with a three point play after an assist from Ryder. Ryder cut the deficit to two with a putback basket. Humphrey tied the game off an assist from Cochran.
The two teams traded lead, and ties throughout the quarter, with the Lady Rebels eventually outscoring the Lady Eagles 18-6 in the quarter, thanks in large part to tenacious defense, excellent ball movement, and Ryder grabbing boards like there was a two for one special at Home Depot.
Throughout the game, the Lady Eagles had no answer for Ryder’s rebounding prowess. She continued to end defensive possessions and keep alive offensive possessions with key glass grabs all night.
The fourth quarter began with the Lady Rebels leading 33-28. A 5-2 run by HD saw the game tied 35-35 with six and half left to play. Cochran broke the tie but fouled out with 6:01 left in the game.
Fannin built a slight lead; however HD tied the game up again 41-41 with 3:53 left in the game; however, back to back baskets from Chandler, the first off a nice assist from Humphrey, the second featuring some nifty post moves, saw the Lady Rebels take the lead for good, as Fannin closed out the game with a 7-0 run and a 48-41 victory.
The boys’ game began with a defensive stalemate, as neither team was able to score for the first 2:24 of the game. Excel quickly built up a 5-0 lead after the first basket; however Hicks cut the lead to three with a basket.
The Eagles flew back with a 9-0 run that saw the lead balloon up to 14-2; however, the Rebels closed the gap with a 7-1 run to close the first quarter down 15-9. The run saw Hicks, with the play of the period, as he drew a shooting foul from half- court with less than a second left in the quarter. He hit two of three free throws.
Hicks cut the lead to five with a free throw to opening the second period; however, Excel responded with an 8-0 run that pushed the deficit to 23-10 with 4:41 left in the half, and resulted in a Rebels’ time out.
A Tyler Robertson three cut the lead to 10, but an 8-1 Excel run pushed the Eagles’ lead up to 33-14. The Rebels responded with a 7-0 run that closed the half with the home team down 33-21.
The second half began with another offensive lull, as no one scored until Hicks hit a basket 1:57 into the third quarter. Hicks followed up the basket with two more free throws. After Robertson drew a charge foul, Excel called time out with 4:31 left in the third and the Eagles lead cut down to eight, 33-25.
The time out seemed to work, as the Eagles outscored the Rebels 12-8 to take a 45-33 lead into the fourth and final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Eagles fly away with the win. Excel outscored Fannin 24-10 in the fourth securing the 69-43 victory, and forcing Fannin to finish second in the tournament.