The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats eliminated Bearden 62-56 in a Region 2-AAA quarterfinal game at home on Friday, despite a high-scoring second-half rally by the Lady Bulldogs.
After scoring only 15 points in the first half, the Bearden girls scored 41 in the second, narrowing an Oak Ridge lead of 24 points in the third quarter to three points late in the fourth.
“It was a fun ball game,” Oak Ridge Coach Paige Redman said. “They did not back down. They did not quit…They went on a great run. We managed to contain it.”
Bearden (24-4) struggled to make three-point shots in the first three quarters. They made only two, both by junior Trinity Lee. That changed in the fourth quarter, when Lee hit four. She led the Lady Bulldogs with 25 points and had 17 of Bearden’s 27 points in the final quarter. She had all six of Bearden’s three-point shots.
Oak Ridge (27-3) was led by sophomore guard Jada Guinn with 32 points, a game high and career high. Like Lee, Guinn also made six three-point shots. She knocked down four in the second quarter alone.
Bearden was competitive, Guinn said.
“We just came out and played together,” she said. When they were ahead but trying to stop a Bearden comeback, the Lady Wildcats had to stay poised, hold the ball, not take bad shots, and not turn it over, Guinn said.
The battle with Bearden, which had a height advantage, helps prepare Oak Ridge for the remaining playoff games, Guinn said. The Friday night game was undecided until the final half minute.
“You know in the post-season you’re going to play some close games,” Redman said.
The Lady Wildcats struggled from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, making six of 14 attempts, but senior Courtney Ellison made one and junior Desiree Bates made two when they mattered most—in the final 14.1 seconds. Bates, a bench player who can provide a spark to Oak Ridge, especially in big games, finished with 12 points.
Oak Ridge junior Mykia Dowdell, who scored eight points for the Lady Wildcats, also came up with a takeaway to help seal the win in the final 14 seconds.
“This time last year, we clicked, and we’re doing that again,” Dowdell said. The motto this year is “one team, one ball, one dream,” she said.
The Wildcats seem to have improved on getting the ball inside, including to their post players. That’s something they’ve worked on, Redman and Dowdell said.
Asked about the second-half rally by Bearden, Dowdell expressed confidence based on experience.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” she said.
Also scoring in double digits for Bearden on Friday was 6-foot-2 freshman Jakhyia Davis. She had 11.
The Friday night game at Wildcat Arena was an elimination game, meaning Bearden’s season is over. The Lady Bulldogs finished first in District 4-AAA during the regular season, and they won their first 19 games of the season. But Bearden lost to Maryville in a District 4 semifinal on Friday, February 17, and to Hardin Valley in the third-place game against Hardin Valley Academy on Monday.
Like Bearden, Oak Ridge also finished top in its district, District 3-AAA.
The Lady Wildcats will face William Blount (21-10) in a Region 2-AAA semifinal at Oak Ridge at 6 p.m. Monday. The Lady Governors, the District 4 runner-up this year, lost to Oak Ridge 64-53 in a Region 2 semifinal at Bearden last year.
The Lady Wildcats are the only District 3 team remaining in the Region 2 tournament. The other three are District 4 teams. William Blount eliminated Anderson County 76-40 in another Region 2 quarterfinal game on Friday, Maryville beat Campbell County 70-50, and Powell lost to Hardin Valley 54-34.
Maryville (19-11) and Hardin Valley (22-8) will face off in the other Region 2 semifinal game at Oak Ridge at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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