GREENEVILLE—The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats finished in second place in the Andrew Johnson Bank Ladies Classic in Greeneville on Saturday, losing to Bradley Central 63-32 in the championship game.
Rhyne Howard of Bradley Central, a 6-foot-1 junior, dominated. The tallest player on the floor, she scored a tournament-high 30 points. No other player scored more than 12. Howard also led both teams with 10 rebounds and eight steals.
It was a much better performance for Howard than in March, when Oak Ridge and Bradley Central played in the Class AAA semifinal game in Murfreesboro. The Lady Wildcats beat the Bearettes 38-31 in that game to advance to the Class AAA state championship, and Howard, who was then a sophomore, was limited to six points, two rebounds, and one steal.
Bradley Central had other advantages on Saturday, including in rebounding and turnovers, and better shooting. The undefeated Bearettes shot 57 percent from field goal range, compared to 37 percent for the Lady Wildcats, and they were 4-of-12, compared to 0-for-3, from three-point range. They led in total steals, 17-5, and forced 23 Lady Wildcat turnovers, while giving up about half as many, 13.
Oak Ridge Coach Paige Green cited the 30 points the Bearettes scored off turnovers and the team’s nine second-chance points. In the first half, Bradley Central had 10 offensive rebounds, compared to zero for Oak Ridge.
“You can’t win games giving up 39 points off of turnovers and offensive rebounds,” said Green, who has played in the Ladies Classic herself and was named most valuable player of the basketball tournament while playing for Bradley Central in 1993.
The Lady Wildcats (13-2, 5-0 District 3-AAA) had brief, small leads in the first quarter, but Howard gave the Bearettes the lead for good at 1:25 in the opening quarter.
Green said Oak Ridge can improve on boxing out for rebounds, taking care of the ball—and playing harder.
“We didn’t give effort,” Green said. “Therefore, we didn’t play tonight.”
The 32 points for Oak Ridge was a season low. The Lady Wildcats were led in scoring by junior Mykia Dowdell with 12 points. Sophomore Jada Guinn had 11.
Like Dowdell, Bradley Central senior Halle Hughes also scored 12 points. No other player on either team was in double digits.
Dowdell had five rebounds. Emma Kate Brown of Bradley Central (16-0, 3-0 District 5-AAA) had five rebounds and four assists, and Hughes had four rebounds and four steals.
The game showed that “there’s a lot we’ve got to work on,” Green said. “You can always get better.”
Howard, who has been called an elite prospect in the class of 2018 by ESPN, was named most valuable player in the Ladies Classic. She tied a tournament record with 21 steals in four games.
Three Oak Ridge players were named to the Ladies Classic All Tournament Team: Dowdell, Guinn, and junior Jaymi Golden. Guinn finished with 55 points in four games, Dowdell had 43, and Golden ended with 36.
Other members of the All Tournament Team were Brown, Howard, and Hughes of Bradley Central; Blayre Shultz and Sydney Newsome of Morristown West; Braelyn Wykle and Taylor Lamb of South Greene; Sydni Lollar of Greeneville; Courtney Whitson of Dobyns-Bennett; Bayley Carmichael of Daniel Boone; Makaila Woolard of Jefferson County; and Brittney Ramsey of Chuckey-Doak.
It was Bradley Central’s third championship at the Ladies’ Classic, with wins in 1993, 1994, and 2016.
Oak Ridge is the five-time champion in the tournament, which is the most by any team, according to Wildcats broadcaster David Clary. The Lady Wildcats last played in the tournament in 2010.
The Oak Ridge girls return to district play in a home game against Karns (0-13, 0-6 District 3-AAA) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Wildcat Arena. The boys play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
See this previous story on the other three Oak Ridge games in the Ladies Classic.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See more photos here.
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