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It's Central vs. Mt. Juliet in 9-AAA finals
Feb 21, 2007 12:00 am
HENDERSONVILLE — Playing for a berth in tonight's District 9-AAA championship game, Smyrna and Wilson Central went to their strengths – the inside game – during Saturday's semifinal at Beech.
And after the final foul was called and last whistle tooted, Wilson Central was left standing with a 69-66 victory in a battle of top-10 teams.
Tierney Jenkins led the No. 3 Lady Wildcats with 26 points and 12 rebounds, tossing in 10 of 14 free throws, to help send 28-3 Central into tonight's 8 p.m. championship game against No. 2 Mt. Juliet.
"Jenkins showed a great job of leadership," Lady Wildcat coach Bud Brandon said. "Our post players set the tempo as we pushed the ball inside and slowly but surely they fouled out."
Sara Williams finished with 14 points down low while Jasmine Hassell had 12. Guard Jessyca Christopher helped balance Central's attack by penetrating for 13 points, including nine in the fourth quarter.
Jasmine White muscled in 21 points from the post for Smyrna while forward Alex Adams threw in three 3-pointers on her way to 19 and point guard Emily Pollock, in an attempt to bring the No. 8 Lady Bulldogs back late, scored 10 of her 17 in the fourth period as Smyrna slipped to 25-6.
"They had White down low and [guard Lauren] Wasson guarded her some," Brandon said. "We finally switched and put Sara on her. We thought that would maybe be a better matchup. Sara has a little more size and contained her a little bit better."
Wasson threw in three free throws and Lauren Farmer one.
But this one seemed to be decided in the paint. Smyrna led briefly on several occasions in the first half before Jenkins scored on a spin move and two free throws to send Central into halftime ahead 24-21.
The run continued into the second half as Central scored the first seven points to go up 31-21.
But fouls took their toll as Brandon sat Jenkins, Hassell and, eventually, Williams with three fouls each to finish the third quarter as the Lady Bulldogs battled to within 38-37 late in the period.
"We played with the lead, but we did everything we could do to try to give them the game," said Brandon, noting the Lady Bulldogs had 14 of their 16 offensive rebounds after halftime. "We set the tempo early. We did some things really good early in the game. We got in foul trouble. We had to take our horses out and play with our ponies."
But Christopher scored her nine fourth-period points early to widen the Lady Wildcat lead back to 50-41 before Pollock showed some savvy in drawing a pair of three-point fouls to sink 5 of 6 free throws. Her conventional three-pointer with 15.5 seconds left brought the Lady Bulldogs within 67-66.
Jenkins dropped in a couple of free throws and Smyrna's Ashley Meeks missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to send Central into the finals and a first round Region 5-AAA home game on Friday.
"It's good to be in the finals," Brandon said.
Lady Bears overcome slow start, Beech to reach 9-AAA finals
HENDERSONVILLE — Playing for the first time in eight days, Mt. Juliet's girls overcame some rust, a solid home team and, in the minds of some, the officiating to reach the District 9-AAA championship game.
The No. 2-ranked, and top-seed, Lady Bears overcame a slow start to overtake host Beech 64-52 in the semifinals Saturday afternoon.
Beech shot the ball well early and led the entire first half until Rebecca Sharpe dropped in two free throws in the closing seconds to lift the Lady Bears to a 25-24 halftime edge.
Mt. Juliet continued its domination early in the third quarter as the Lady Bears' run reached 26-4, turning a 24-19 deficit into a 40-28 lead.
But Beech scored eight straight, including six from the free-throw line, to close within 45-38 as the fouls mounted on one side of the scoreboard – Mt. Juliet's. Lady Bear coach Chris Fryer drew a technical foul during the Lady Buccaneeers' free-throw flurry.
"The second half we played well, especially the third quarter," Fryer said after his Lady Bears improved to 26-2 heading into tonight's 8 p.m. championship game against Wilson Central. "We had 10 fouls to their one, and we still dominated the game. I didn't think the officiating was very good. Our kids overcame poor officiating, they overcame a poor first half, really. We didn't shoot the ball very well and overcame to beat Beech on their home floor.
"It was a good win for us."
Forward Abby Jackson scored eight of her 15 points in the first quarter as Beech took an 18-13 lead. It was center Heather Miller who kept Mt. Juliet in the game early with six of her 18 in the opening eight minutes.
"The last time we played Beech, I think we beat them six or seven at our home, so I knew it was going to be a tough game," Fryer said. "They got a lot of seniors that have played and have experience.
"The first half, we would have been out of the game if it hadn't been for Heather Miller wouldn't have come to play. She had 11 boards the first half. She ended the game with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Those are big-time numbers at tournament time."
K.C. VanAtta couldn't buy a basket from outside until she dropped one in from up top just before halftime to bring the Lady Bears within 24-23. Then she couldn't miss as she fired in four more triples to finish with a game-high 23 points. The senior Trevecca-signee scored seven in the fourth quarter as Mt. Juliet put the Lady Bucs away.
"They got a little wore down," Fryer said. "We tried to run them as much as we could. K.C. got a step and a half and got an open look and knocked the shot down. She was shooting a little rushed [in the first half]. The second half, she settled down and got her feet under her and knocked the shots down."
Jordan Nixon knocked in 12 points from inside for Mt. Juliet while Sharpe scored nine and senior Miaca Bowman two.
Rachel Henry scored 16 to lead the Lady Bucs, who will bring a 20-12 record into tonight's 6:30 p.m. consolation contest against Smyrna.
For the Lady Bears, Saturday's win not only put them into tonight's final against neighboring rival Central, it also gave them a first-round Region 5-AAA game Friday at Tommy Martin Gym, where they have won 63 straight.
"That's very exciting, not to have to travel to Clarksville for the first round for the region, or worse than that, Henry County," Fryer said. "We're glad to be at home. That will be a big game for us.
"Hopefully we'll play well. But if we can't win that one, we need to just go home anyway."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.