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Late mistakes, misses costly for BHS girls in sub-state OT loss to Tennessee High


A converted short jumper here, a made free throw there, or minus a critical turnover and Bearden probably was headed to the Class AAA Girls State Basketball Tournament in Murfreesboro this week.

Leading by four points against Tennessee High and with possession at the 1:38 mark of the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs were victimized by late-game missed free throws, misfired short jumpers and turnovers.

In a sub-state thriller at Bearden, the THS Lady Vikings (28-4) rallied and prevailed 49-45 in overtime to claim the TSSAA state tourney spot Saturday, March 7.


The Lady Bulldogs, led by senior standout post Mary Hirst’s 25 points, 10 blocked shots and 10-plus rebounds, ends its season 24-7. “It was an all-around great effort by her,” BHS head coach Nathan Hodges said. “It was just a great game all the way around, our players laid it all out there, gave everything they had. We just didn’t get the ball to go in the basket a couple of times late in the game.

“It was a physical game around the basket, people were getting bumped on both ends trying to score,” he added. “We just didn’t put enough of those balls in the basket.”

With Tennessee pressuring Bearden full-court the entire game, “Their pressure finally just kinda took its toll on us a little bit and knocked us back,” Hodges said. “They just made the big plays. You’ve got to hand it to ’em. I thought it was a well-played game both ways.”

Rikki Sanders, Bearden senior guard who scored six of her 11 points early in the fourth quarter to turn back THS’s 33-32 lead after three periods, converted a steal into fast-break lay-up with 3:11 left to give BHS a 39-33 edge.

“She’s been huge in this playoff run,” Hodges said. “Rikki and Mary just haven’t wanted to go home. And they played great. It just wasn’t quite enough.”

The Lady Vikings’ scoring drought continued until Kimberly Wood‘s rebound basket with 2:53 remaining made it 39-35.

At the 2:12 mark, Sanders picked up her fourth foul but a Hirst block gave possession back to BHS with two minutes to go.

But Hirst missed the front end of a one-and-one, and THS’s Cheyenne Thompson took a Danielle Montgomery driving feed for a wide-open lay-up, trimming the difference to 39-37 with 1:29 to play in regulation.

Hirst missed a short jumper, but THS misfired and the Lady Bulldogs took possession, up two, with less than a minute to play.

Shayla McDaniel missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 48 seconds left, and after the Tennessee rebound Montgomery’s driving basket tied the game 39-39 with 36 seconds showing.

Though Jai-Jai McLaughlin missed the front end of a one-and-one, McDaniel got the rebound and Hirst went to the line. With just 19 seconds to go, Hirst nailed both free throws for a 41-39 Bearden lead.

But Montgomery, who finished with a team-high 23 points, took the inbounds pass full-court for another driving lay-up to tie it 41-41 with 10.2 seconds left.

“Montgomery’s just a stud,” Hodges said. “She just carried ’em, when they had to get a bucket they went to her."

Bearden advanced the ball to frontcourt but had to use two timeouts and found itself side backcourt with only 2.8 seconds left. Hirst took the inbounds pass, drove baseline and saw her 12-foot jumper hit the back iron as time expired.

Hirst’s one free throw made it 42-41, but Montgomery sank two free throws for a 43-42 Lady Vikings lead with 2:49 left in OT.

After a BHS turnover, Tennessee pulled the ball out before Montgomery was fouled and hit two more free tosses for a 45-42 THS lead at the 2:08 mark.

Sanders answered with a pair of free throws at 1:39, then after Montgomery missed the front end of a one-and-one Sanders’ free throw tied it 45-45 with 1:19 left.

With the Lady Vikings supposedly running down the clock, Sanders raced down a bad backcourt pass but her fast-break five-footer missed and, fouling THS’s Sarah Baker, Sanders fouled out.

Baker broke the tie with her only points of the game, two free throws with 25.8 seconds to play, giving Tennessee a 47-45 lead.

The Lady Bulldogs then missed a short jumper and THS rebounded. But Montgomery missed both free throws with 17.9 seconds left, and after the ball was knocked out of bounds, BHS had possession.

But miscommunication was costly, as Hirst came up to take an inbounds pass that was lobbed downcourt, and Tennessee had the ball back with 15.6 left. Montgomery then sank two free throws with 14.6 seconds showing to seal victory.

Cravanas ended with six points, McDaniel two and McLaughlin one for Bearden.

Looking back over the season, “We were picked to finish second in our district [4-AAA]," Hodges said. “I think just to get to this point, to win the region championship … It’s really been a banner year for us to try to become one of the top programs year in and year out.

“Our kids have completely raised the level of the program since they’ve been here.”

About his seniors, Hodges said Hirst and Sanders “have played huge in these big games, they were huge against Oak Ridge [45-44 region semifinal upset victory].

“Off the floor they’ve been the leaders of our program, set the correct type of example for the other kids to follow,” he added. “They’ve started four years, and the past four years our program’s gotten better every season.”

Also playing her final game at BHS is senior reserve guard Joy McCuen. “Joy McCuen has played big, she basically won the [regular season] game for us at Heritage,” Hodges said. “She’s just a class act.”

 

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