Freshman forward Lindsey Freeman ignited the Lady Wildcats with six first-period points and 12 of her 14 in the first half as Central built a 28-14 lead at intermission, earning tournament most valuable player honors.
Mt. Juliet freshman Emma Palmer, who is looking more and more like her predecessors in a long line of dominant Lady Bear post players, led her team to an early 6-2 lead and finished the night with a game-high 15 points.
But Central gained momentum thanks in part to two unusual three-point baskets. Point guard Piper Elrod’s first triple bounced high in the air before dropping through the basket. Forward Taylor Tucker ended the first quarter with a 45-foot bank shot for a 14-6 lead.
As the second half progressed, Central methodically ran its offense, taking time off the clock. Mt. Juliet did the same as the Lady Bears worked to get Palmer the ball under the basket.
Central guard Addison Byrd, named the district most valuable player, had a slow scoring start but finished with 10 points, including a pair of threes. Elrod sank two triples for her six while Tucker added a fourth-quarter free throw for four to go with six assists, Anna Altman a three and Nathalie Ventura two as the Lady Wildcats climbed to 29-2.
Ryleigh Osborne and Tondrianna Davis each dropped in three points for Mt. Juliet while Cassidy Harris and Julia Maki each managed two and Nevaeh Majors a free throw as the Lady Bears, who started the tournament as the No. 6 seed, finished second with a 16-12 mark.
Both teams will be at home at 7 p.m. Friday for first-round Region 5-AAA games before the winners return to Lebanon next Monday for the semifinals.
Elrod and Byrd joined Freeman on the all-tournament team, as well as Mt. Juliet’s Palmer and Aaliyah Frazier
Joining Byrd on the all-district team were Central teammates Elrod and Freeman, Mt. Juliet’s Palmer and Lebanon’s Allissa Mulaski and Caleah Shannon.