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Rally led by Miss Basketball falls short, Webb takes No. 2

NASHVILLE — A dramatic fourth-quarter rally came down to what Webb Lady Spartans head coach Shelley Sexton-Collier labeled “a great pass at the end of the game.'”

That pass, from Marjorie Butler to Jane Romano, set up Romano's three-point shot to tie just before the final buzzer that would have brought Webb's basketball team back from a 13-point mid-fourth quarter deficit to tie.

It rimmed out.

“She had a really good look at it, I thought it was going in,” said Sexton-Collier, whose Lady Spartans (27-6) lost a hard-fought Division II-A state championship game, 55-52, to Franklin Road Academy (27-3) in Allen Arena, Lipscomb University, Saturday, March 4.

“I felt like if that shot went in, and we got it into overtime, I felt like we could win,” the coach added. “One of their big girls fouled out, and the other one [forward Derica Wyatt with a co-game-high 27 points] had four.

“I think they would have panicked a little bit without those two on the court.”

Nevertheless, “I was so proud of my team for the way they fought back,” Sexton-Collier said. “They just really played their hearts out, especially toward the end.”

Butler, a junior guard named Tennessee Miss Basketball in Division II-A, scored a co-game-high 27 points while leading Webb's rally.

Sexton-Collier said Butler “had a fantastic year, carried our team early,” adding the junior “got better at getting her teammates involved” later in the season.

Romano, a junior guard who along with Butler earned All-tournament honors, added 12.

“Rebecca Petersen and Jane Romano and Madison Davis carried the weight of trying to defend their posts.”

Davis, a freshman post, and fellow freshman Imani Smith, a guard, earned high praise from Sexton-Collier while combining for 13 points: Davis eight and Smith five.

“I felt like Madison Davis stepped up big for us and created a lot of scoring opportunities for us,” the coach said. “Grew up a lot and defended well.

“Imani Smith hit a big three in the corner.”

With Webb trailing 46-33 and under five minutes to play, Sexton-Collier called a timeout.

“I looked at them, and I said, 'We've been here before … we can do this,’” the coach said. “‘We just need to start making some plays on both ends of the floor.’”

Make plays they did, highlighted by nine points from Butler. Her two free throws capped a 12-2 run and trimmed the lead to 48-45 with 1:31 left.

“In the end, Marjorie took over … I felt like our pressure [defense] did give us a chance to win,” Sexton-Collier said. “I think Derica Wyatt's statement was, ‘It was the best defensive pressure’ they've faced all year.

“I felt like our other guards on the perimeter, Kelsey Brown, Imani Smith, Natalie Scarbrough, they defended [well],” the coach added.

Two Davis free throws, followed by Smith's three-point jumper with 32 seconds to go cut FRA’s lead to 52-50.

After a Wyatt free throw, Butler scored with 16 seconds remaining, making it 53-52.

Wyatt answered with another basket at the eight-second mark.

Sexton-Collier said seniors Scarbrough, Petersen and post Victoria Vandevate helped provide “good team chemistry, this team was close.”

FRA led 14-10 after one quarter, 28-22 at halftime and 35-30 heading to the fourth period.


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