The Lady Wildcats finished as runner-up in the 2015 Lenoir City Christmas Tournament, losing to Upperman 51-40 in the championship game on Wednesday.
It’s the first trophy or plaque her players have received, first-year coach Paige Green said.
“That in itself says something,” Green said. “It’s not what we wanted. But it’s progress.”
The Lady Wildcats Oak Ridge (11-3, 5-0 District 3-AAA) can play at a championship level, but they didn’t do it on Wednesday, she said.
Oak Ridge trailed 29-25 at halftime. But after making a defensive adjustment in the second half, Upperman opened up a lead of as many as 16 points in the third quarter, when the Lady Bees outscored the Lady Wildcats 18-8.
Green said the Lady Bees (15-2, 4-0 District 8-AA) went from man-to-man coverage to zone in the second half. The Lady Wildcats’ guards watched the game from the perimeter and passed rather than attacking, she said. A guard needed to attack, Green said. She said the Lady Wildcats weren’t getting the ball to Oak Ridge sophomore post Mykia Dowdell, who picked up her fourth and fifth fouls in the fourth quarter.
Still, the Lady Bees are a good Class AA team, Green said, and the Lady Wildcats had to make a lot of adjustments.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve faced so far,” she said.
Upperman Coach Dana McWilliams said the Lady Bees’ defensive adjustments in the second half helped their offense.
Upperman recently won a tournament in Florida and hopes to be a top Class AA team, but they’re in a tough district, McWilliams said.
She said Oak Ridge did some good work defensively on Wednesday.
“Thirty-four (Dowdell) requires some attention out there,” McWilliams said. “She’s such a great player.”
Upperman sophomore point guard Akira Levy had a game-high 20 points for the Lady Bees; junior guard Gracie Maynord scored 15, including on four three-pointers; and junior forward Abby Greenwood added 11.
The Lady Wildcats were led by freshman point guard Jada Guinn with 13 points. Dowdell and senior Caelyn Thompson each had seven, junior Courtney Ellison scored six points, and sophomore Desiree Bates added five.
Oak Ridge beat Sequoyah 48-29 on Monday and Lenoir City 50-37 on Tuesday to advance to the championship.
Upperman beat Hardin Valley 61-40 on Monday and Stone Memorial 69-47 on Tuesday to get to the final.
Upperman High School is in Baxter, Tennessee, west of Cookeville, between Knoxville and Nashville.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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