Halls Middle was ‘last girls team standing’ in Knox County

By Steve Williams

Halls Middle School’s girls basketball team had to overcome a “scare” at its school the morning of Jan. 25 before playing West Valley that night in the championship game of the Knox County Class AAA tournament, said Coach Christi Bowling.

“We had a two-hour delay that Thursday and were all excited to see each other after the snow,” recalled Bowling. “Some kids from Gibbs Middle School called in a hoax. But we found out later they claimed there was an active shooter in the school. So we went on an immediate lockdown.”

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office Juvenile Detectives Unit reportedly arrested three juveniles from Gibbs Middle School for placing a false active shooter call to 911 on Jan. 25. The calls came into E-911 at 11:31 and 11:32, where reports were made of an active shooter at Halls Middle School.

“It was really scary for the kids and for the teachers,” added Coach Bowling. “We are very thankful for the law enforcement. They did an amazing job and our kids still had to play the game. And it was the biggest game – it was for first and second place in the county. But they were still expected to play.”

Although Halls lost the Knox County title game by five points (31-26), Bowling’s team advanced to the Class AAA Area semifinals at Ocoee the following Saturday (Jan. 27) and defeated East Hamilton 24-19. With that victory, the Halls girls played Monday (Jan. 29) at Clinton Middle School and defeated T.A. Dugger Junior High of Elizabethton 51-28 in the Area finals.

“And until tonight (Jan. 29), they played their best game ever (in the Knox County finals), even though they did fall short,” said Coach Bowling. “To be nervous and have all that adrenalin used up, it was incredible.”

Halls led the Elizabethton team 27-14 at halftime and pulled away for the 23-point victory.

Lola Widener, a 6th grader, scored a team-high 20 points. Bella Wires, who also is a standout softball player, scored 10 points. Others contributing to the win included Maclain Turner (7th grader), Savannah Green (8th grader), Audree Riehn (8th grader) and Ella Dennison (8th grader).

Coach Bowling was proud of her team, which made its first-ever trip to the Sectional in school history and continued to make history with its second win in the Area finals.

“We are the last Knox County girls team standing now,” added Coach Bowling after West Valley (22-3) lost a 28-26 heartbreaker to Maryville in the Area finals that day. “I’m really proud of them.”

Halls’ post-season run ended on Wednesday (Jan. 31) when it lost to Sevier County Middle 51-18 in the Sectional semifinals. Halls finished the season 21-7.

Sevier County went on to win the TMSAA Class AAA state championship by defeating Mt. Juliet Middle 35-29 at Rockvale High School on Feb. 10.