Note: This story was last updated at 10:47 p.m.
Oak Ridge freshman Jada Guinn scored 14 second-half points to help hold off a Dobyns-Bennett rally in a close Class AAA sectional game on Saturday, and the 39-32 victory sends the Lady Wildcats to the state basketball tournament for the first time since 2010.
Guinn had a big turnaround from the first half to the second. She hit her first shot, a layup, but then missed her next six shots in the first and second quarter. But she knocked down six shots in the second half, along with two free throws, for a game-high 18 points.
Guinn scored 10 in the fourth quarter, after the Lady Indians had rallied to take a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter and then widened it to 30-27 with 5:40 left in the fourth.
“The play calls we ran were for her tonight,” Oak Ridge Coach Paige Green said. “She stepped up big…It was a difference of her attacking with confidence.”
In the first half, Green said, the Lady Wildcats appeared to be playing scared and were timid.
“They were playing not to lose,” Green said.
But in the fourth quarter, Guinn scored from near the right baseline on back-to-back possessions to give Oak Ridge a 31-30 lead with 4:35 left. She spun inside for a short jumper a minute later and followed that up two minutes later with a steal that she converted into a layup, widening the Lady Wildcats’ lead to 35-30 with 1:25 remaining.
“Coach Green just told me I need to attack, and it’ll help our team,” Guinn said.
Oak Ridge sophomore Mykia Dowdell, who had at least six rebounds and three steals, scored 12 points for the Lady Wildcats, and sophomore Jaymi Golden had eight.
“The difference was in the second half (when) we came out here and played together,” Dowdell said. The Lady Wildcats were scoring from all directions, and Guinn was a big help, Dowdell said.
She said the team wanted the win for senior Caelyn Thompson and others including her mom, Tammy Dowdell and former Coach Jill Prudden, who has been at several of the games.
“I know that all the hard work is starting to show,” said Thompson, who won her first championship in four years at Oak Ridge in the District 3-AAA tournament in February, followed by the Region 2-AAA championship on Wednesday at Bearden. “We all know we have each other’s backs.”
Dobyns-Bennett, a taller team that has two players who are six feet tall and two more who are 5-foot-11, was led by freshman Courtney Whitson, who scored 16 points. No other Lady Indian had more than four. Whitson had at least 10 rebounds.
Class AAA quarterfinals in the 2016 BlueCross Basketball Championships start Wednesday, March 9, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
“Where we are now is where we’ve wanted to be all year,” Golden said. “Now that we’ve made it to state,” she said, the Lady Wildcats will “go in with the purpose of getting a ring.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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