- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Lady 'Cats rule the region
Mar 03, 2007 12:00 am
HENDERSONVILLE — With Miss Basketball finalist Tierney Jenkins on the floor, Northeast's Dawn Evans put on a third-quarter show for the ages in Wednesday's Region 5-AAA final at Beech.
But Jenkins and her Wilson Central teammates answered in the fourth quarter and the defending state-champion Lady Wildcats overtook the Lady Eagles 73-66 for their third region title in four years.
Evans, a James Madison-signee who shot Mt. Juliet out of the tournament Monday, threatened to send Central to the sectional road with 24 third-period points, including five three-pointers, on her way to 37 as Northeast used a 17-4 run to turn a 37-30 Lady Wildcat lead into a 47-41 Lady Eagle advantage.
But Jenkins, whose numbers are better than the stock market's right now, was again money in the bank as she helped the Lady Wildcats come back with 13 points in the third and eight in the fourth to finish with 29 and 16 rebounds [including nine offensive] and snatch tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
Imagine Jenkins and Evans playing on the same team. They do, along with Central center Jasmine Hassell, on the Tennessee Team Pride AAU squad.
"I know how she plays and I know how once she gets going it's going to be really, really hard to stop her," said Jenkins, whose 32-3 Lady Wildcats will host Antioch at 7 p.m. Saturday in a sectional game. "She's a really great player. It's hard to stop her."
After being convinced Evans could score from outside, Central began running defenders at her to force her to drive and possibly give up the ball.
"After she started hitting, that was the only thing we could do was to trap her, make her give it up," Jenkins said. "We had a couple of easy steals after that and that gave us the momentum."
Lady Wildcat coach Bud Brandon said, "Our girls responded well. We went to a 2-3 zone and two guards trapped [Evans] and made her give it up and make somebody else beat us besides her. We took it out of her hands and that was an important thing we needed to do."
Central had the size advantage inside and Hassell hammered home 16 points from down low while Sara Williams hit the Lady Wildcats' only two three-point baskets for half of her 12 and guard Chelsea Burroughs tossed in 10 fastbreak points off the bench. Jessyca Christopher, Lauren Wasson and Lauren Farmer each flipped in two.
"We've got some girls who have been in situations like this before and when the going gets tough, the tough gets going and our girls did that tonight," Brandon said. "In the third quarter, Jasmine did a good job putting the ball in the hole a few times and Tierney responded and did some good things. Sara hit a big three and when she did hit them, they were big threes. Burroughs gave us a good lift on some layups and some runouts.
"It takes all of them. Farmer came in and hit two big free throws. You can look at each one of them and they all did something special in the game and that's why we're successful at this point."
Evans' fifth triple of the third quarter oppened a 50-44 lead. Jenkins converted a putback for a three-point play to cut the margin in half. But Evans was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three free throws. Farmer flipped in two free throws to draw the Lady 'Cats within four and, after Evans missed from 40 feet to draw cheers from the Central fans, Wasson hit a foul shot to bring Central within 53-51 going into the fourth quarter.
Williams tied the score on a putback 14 seconds into the fourth and her three-pointer from the corner put Central in front 56-55.
The lead went back and forth until Burroughs scored on a short pullup jumper off the glass to put Central in front 60-59 and start a 13-1 run that put the Lady Wildcats in control. Williams, who hit numerous clutch three-pointers during the state-championship run last year but had struggled from outside most of this season, sank another triple during the run.
"Coach Brandon always trusts me in times like this," Williams said. "I just know I have my team's support, God behind me and I have the support of all the fans, so I wasn't that nervous."
Northeast made Central supporters nervous early on as the Lady Eagles ran out to a 9-2 lead. Burroughs ignited a Lady Wildcat comeback as they caught and passed Northeast on her consecutive fastbreak layups 17 seconds apart to put WC in front for the first time 24-22.
After a putback by Raquel Barlow tied the score, Jenkins scored on a putback and a drive down the lane for a 28-24 halftime lead.
"That's just typical T," Williams said of Jenkins. "T's a crunch-time girl and that's exactly what we expect out of her."
Kamiko Williams finished with 14 points inside for the Lady Eagles, who will bring a 31-8 mark to Brentwood, which beat Antioch 51-49 in the Region 6-AAA final.
Saturday's game is Central's fourth straight sectional. The Lady Wildcats overwhelmed Antioch in this game in 2004 and held off the host Lady Bears in their classic in December.
"They've got a good ball team," Brandon said of the Lady Bears. "I'm glad we're at home at Wilson Central and I hope we win. [I hope] we get four more wins."
Saturday's winners will advance to the Girls State Tournament at Middle Tennessee State's Murphy Center in Murfreesboro next week.
"We got two championships down and we got one left to go," Williams said.
Joining Jenkins on the All-Tournament team were Hassell, Christopher and Williams of Central; Evans, Williiams and Makia Williams of Northeast and Mt. Juliet's K.C. VanAtta and Rebecca Sharpe.
The Region 5-AAA boys final will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at Beech as Mt. Juliet looks to knock off favored Clarksville for what would be the Golden Bears' first region championship in memory. Win or lose, MJ will be in the sectional at 7 p.m. Monday against either Franklin or Whites Creek.
At Watertown, Clarkrange won the Region 4-A girls' championship with a 38-28 triumph over Jackson County.
The boys will wrap up their tournament at 6:30 p.m. tonight as Friendship Christian and Pickett County hook up. The Commanders have never won a boys' region basketball crown, but will be in the sectional for the sixth time in the last 22 years on Monday. Tonight's winner will play at home while the loser goes to the Chattanooga area against either Arts & Sciences or Tennessee Temple.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.