Note: This story was last updated at 1:40 p.m. March 3.
Oliver Springs beat Hampton 51-49 in overtime in a Class A sectional game on Monday, and the Lady Bobcats will play in a state quarterfinal game in Murfreesboro on Thursday.
Oliver Springs (28-6) will take on Decatur County Riverside (24-9) at 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Eastern time) Thursday, March 5, at the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
Senior twins Emily (22 points) and Rachel Griffith (15) combined to score 37 points for the Lady Bobcats on Monday, including 13 in the fourth quarter and the only two Oliver Springs baskets in overtime. The game was tied at 47 at the end of the fourth quarter.
“The difference was probably my kids’ will—will to win,” Oliver Springs Coach Michelle Christopher said.
Christopher said Oliver Springs came out playing really well but then struggled through a “bad spell,” trailing by as much as seven points, as the Lady Bulldogs made defensive changes. But the Lady Bobcats made defensive changes of their own and started making shots, Christopher said.
“Big-time players make big-time plays, and that’s what they did,” she said.
Hampton missed chances to win the game in regulation and win or tie it in overtime, but Christopher said those were desperation-type shots, forced by a good Oliver Springs defense.
The Lady Bobcats’ defensive play on the last possessions of the fourth quarter and overtime was a “huge” factor, Christopher said.
“That was just an amazing team effort on that, just knowing where their scorers were,” she said.
The Lady Cats had been up 15-8 over Hampton at the end of the first quarter, but were down 28-26 at halftime. Hampton’s Alex Bowers scored 18 of her 19 points in the first half.
Alexis Grubbs had 22 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
A big shot by Courtney Jones in the fourth quarter was important for Oliver Springs, putting the Lady Bobcats up.
It will be the first trip to the state tournament for the Oliver Springs girls since 2009. Christopher said they had been four years in a row and were the state runner-up once and lost in a semifinal game once.
“We’re looking to go down and play like we’ve been playing,” she said. “We’re looking to make some noise and not just be satisfied with going to the state tournament.”
Coming into the Monday night game, Oliver Springs was the Region 2-A Champion, and Hampton (19-13) was the Region 1 Runner-Up. The Lady Bobcats won the regional championship at Harriman High School on Saturday, February 28, beating Meigs County 46-43.
The Division I Class A girls’ basketball semifinal games are Friday, and the championship will be played Saturday. See the Class A state tournament bracket here.
Our thanks to RoaneSports.com and photographer Hannah Ellis for allowing us to use their pictures.
More information will be added as it becomes available.