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Lady Bears return to Region 5-AAA finals
Feb 26, 2013 3:30 pm
Mt. Juliet holds off Lebanon rally, to face Beech on Wednesday
By Andy Reed
HENDERSONVILLE — With almost an entirely-new team, Mt. Juliet's girls returned to the Region 5-AAA final with a 43-36 victory over Lebanon on Monday night at Beech.
The Lady Bears led virtually the entire way, though they saw Lebanon sliced the margin down to two in the final minutes before Mt. Juliet dropped in four free throws in the final 20 seconds to improve to 24-8.
Mt. Juliet will face host Beech, a 60-56 winner over Dickson County earlier Monday, at 7 p.m. Wednesday with the winner playing at home in Saturday's sectional and the runner up going on the road.
"That's very exciting for our basketball team because it really wasn't expected for most of this season," said 15-year Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer, whose Lady Bears have appeared in seven previous sectionals, losing only to Brentwood in a since-abandoned tournament his first season. "We had graduated seven of our top eight players [from last year's State Tournament team].
"Our basketball team has gotten better and improved as the season has gone along and we've accomplished something I wasn't sure we could do."
Part of Mt. Juliet's basketball legacy includes Courtney McFarlin, who just completed her first season as Lebanon's coach with a 17-14 record. She drew her first career technical foul in this game.
"Every break went their way, but those things happen," McFarlin said. "We played great defensively. [We] executed the game plan and that's all I can ask.
"I am so proud of [the girls] from where they started to where they are now."
The Lady Bears led 10-7 following the first quarter, 20-15 at halftime and 28-22 through three periods.
"Courtney's bunch played their tails off," Fryer said. "They played hard. They came ready to play and she had a good game plan.
"It wasn't a pretty game for us offensively. We were out of sync most of the night and that was a tribute to coach McFarlin with the job they did defending us."
Point guard Tyia Waller was left open to lead the Lady Bears with 15 points while center Sally McCabe, the lone veteran returning from Mt. Juliet's top eight from last season, finished with 14 and forward Ronjanae Degray added 11. Karly Dyer dropped in a three-pointer while the Devilettes played a box-and-one on Savannah Sanders, who burned Lebanon with some three-pointers in a December meeting at MJHS.
Madison Sloan led all scorers with 17 points for Lebanon while Abby Wright notched nine, Julia Fox five, Kelsey Yarbrough a three and Scottlyn Elie two.
Fox, who's headed for Murray State on a basketball scholarship, Elie and Faith Rushing made their final appearance in a Lebanon uniform, leaving a large nucleus returning next season.
Friendship falls in 4-A semis
WATERTOWN — Jackson County's girls advanced to the Region 4-A championship game Monday night with a 43-32 win over Friendship Christian.
The Lady Devils never trailed, though the District 7-A champions had to turn back some Friendship challenges which twice saw the Lady Commanders pull into ties late in the first half.
Jaycee Coe connected on a pair of three-pointers in leading Jackson County with 27 points. Her triple from the corner with three seconds left in the first half snapped a 19-19 tie and gave her 16 for the first half.
Jackson County got big girl McKenzie Hensley involved more in the second half as she scored six of her 10 points during the third quarter. The Lady Devils held the ball for over a minute until she scored a layup at the buzzer for a 34-28 lead.
Friendship got no closer during the fourth quarter as Jackson County was able to dribble chunks of time off the clock to advance to Wednesday's 7 p.m. championship game against Clarkrange with a 28-3 record. The Lady Devils will also play in Saturday's sectional. Clarkrange ousted Gordonsville 54-37 in Monday's other semi.
Friendship finished with an 18-9 mark despite committing just 11 turnovers, about 10 below the Lady Commanders' season average. They also had just 22 rebounds, which was about 15 below par.
Center Deja Jones, Friendship's lone junior, led the Lady Commanders with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Kaitlyn Teeter, one of three seniors, finished with eight points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Senior Kristian Watkins [Brianna Stovall is the third 12th-grader] scored six points, Courtney Petty and Taylor Patterson a three-pointer apiece and Aubrey Hawks two.
Coe connected for nine of Jackson County's 11 first-period points as the Lady Devils opened a seven-point lead late in the period.