But the Lady ‘Cats found their range from outside and bombed the visiting Lady Knights out of the Region 5-AAA tournament 65-27 Friday night.
The teams played to a 12-12 draw midway through the first period before the Lady ‘Cats closed the quarter with a 12-0 run. Add that to the second quarter and Central went on a 38-9 surge over 12 minutes to out the game away 50-21 by halftime.
Addison Byrd had the hot hand in the first quarter with 14 points, including two three-pointers. She added a third triple in the second period and had all of her 19 by halftime. Piper Elrod poured in four second-quarter threes and added a fifth in the third as she finished with 15. Freshman Lindsey Freeman finished with 12, including nine in the opening period.
Coach John Wild pulled his starters midway through the third quarter and his seconds during the fourth as the Lady ‘Cats claimed their 30th win against just two losses.
Taylor Tucker tossed in seven points and Anna Altman and Dottie McSpadden two triples each for six apiece to round out Central’s scoring.
No one reached double figures for the Lady Knights, who went home a final 14-13 for the season.
Central will face Rossview in the latest of a series of region meetings at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the semifinals at Lebanon’s Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court. The winner will advance to Wednesday’s championship and next Saturday’s sectional.
Kenwood’s boys will be at Lebanon tonight for a 7 p.m. first-round region game.
Watertown wears out Clay County
WATERTOWN — A series of ACL injuries left Watertown less than whole most of the season.
But the late-season return of senior guard Mya Gaines has added a renewed dimension to the Tigerettes and it showed in Friday’s 73-59 first-round upset of Clay County in the opening round of the Region 4-A tournament.
Watertown seized control with a 15-0 run spanning the first and second quarters as the Tigerettes led 15-4 at the first-period break and 39-19 at halftime.
“We got in transition and made layups,” Watertown coach Lane Price said after his Tigerettes improved to 14-15 for the season. “We pretty much played a man box-and-one on their best player (Taylor Strong).”
Maria Allocco led Watertown with 21 points while Gaines threw in 13. Brenna Lutrell threw in three 3-pointers as she and Ashlea Dickens each dropped in 10 while McKenna George added eight, Emma Edwards six and Mya Huddleston five. The Tigerettes hit 19 of 29 from inside the three-point arc.
Getting Gaines back wasn’t as simple as putting her name in the starting lineup, Price said.
“We got Mya Gaines back with four or five games left in the year and when you get someone like that back, it takes away minutes other players had been getting.
“Because of Mya’s character, the way she comes to work every day, she doesn’t make any excuses, and the other girls accepted her. I’m really proud of those three seniors (Gaines, Huddleston and Claire Edwards).”
With Strong held in check, Brittany Boone led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points while Maddie Harlee hit a pair of three-pointers on her way to 13 as Clay County concluded a 20-12 campaign.
All the home teams won Friday night, meaning Watertown will face District 7-A champion Pickett County at 6 p.m. Monday in the semifinals at WHS, followed by Clarkrange against Goodpasture. Monday’s winners will advance to Wednesday’s finals and next Saturday’s sectional.
Boys’ action will tip off at 7 p.m. tonight at satellite sites, including Watertown where the District 8 champion Purple Tigers will play host to Monterey.
Clarksville ends Lady Bears’ season
MT. JULIET — In a Region 5-AAA tournament opener which was somewhat a microcosm of its season, Mt. Juliet’s year ended on the short end of a 47-39 score to Clarksville in a game which was closer than the final.
The tone was set very early in this contest as Clarksville controlled the opening tip and immediately hit a three-pointer.
Mt. Juliet true to its long-standing strategy, kept feeding the ball inside to posts Aaliyah Frazier (five points at halftime) and Emma Palmer, who finished with six points at the half.
Julia Maki hit back to back three-pointers to give the Lady Bears an early 15-10 lead six minutes before the half as Mt Juliet went on an 8-0 run.
Clarksville answered with a 10-0 run to go ahead 20-17. The Lady Wildcats were up 20-19 at the half.
Senior Cassidy Harris gave Mt. Juliet the lead back with her own three with 4:40 left in the third quarter for a 34-33 Lady Bear edge. Clarksville regained the lead back as the Lady Wildcats kept hitting either three-pointers or fouls shots for a 30-28 lead at end of three quarters.
Both teams exchanged threes to swap the lead back in fourth until around the three-minute mark when Mt. Juliet was forced to foul. Clarksville hit nearly all its foul shots down the stretch and after the Lady Bears turned it over two straight trips down in closing minutes.
It was Clarksville’s first region win in five years, since Barshaara Graves and her four fellow Division I signees rolled to the state tournament. The Lady Bears, with three or four freshmen in the starting lineup all season finished the year at 16-12.
Clarksville will return to Wilson County on Monday with a 24-5 record to face Station Camp in a 6 p.m. semifinal at Lebanon’s Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court.
Boys’ region tournament action will tip off at 7 p.m. tonight at home sites, including Springfield, where the Yellow Jackets will play host to Mt. Juliet.
Mt. Juliet News sports editor George Page contributed to this story.