Note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m.
The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats won the Region 2-AAA championship for the second year in a row on Wednesday, crushing Hardin Valley 71-42. Oak Ridge Coach Paige Redman said it was the best overall game she’s seen the girls play.
“This game showed me a lot about them from start to finish on both ends of the court,” Redman said. “We played really, really well.”
The Lady Wildcats (29-3) had at least 15 steals, and they scored on eight of those. Oak Ridge had 25 points off of turnovers, including steals. Some of those turnovers led to three-point shots, some to layups, and still others to two-point plays converted into three-point plays because of Hardin Valley fouls.
Oak Ridge also had at least a half-dozen feeds in the paint for a basket, sometimes from one player standing near the free throw line to another cutting inside toward the basket when Hardin Valley guards came out too far.
“Tonight they played basketball,” Redman said of her team. “It was the best overall game I’ve seen them play.”
Oak Ridge was led by sophomore Jada Guinn, who scored a game-high 24 points. Guinn also had a half-dozen steals or so. She was named most valuable player of the Region 2-AAA tournament for the second year in a row.
Junior Mykia Dowdell added 19 points for the Lady Wildcats, and she had several steals. Junior Jaymi Golden scored 10 and she had a handful of steals as well, including two back-to-back takeaways near the end of the game. Like Golden, senior Courtney Ellison also scored 10, mostly on three-point shots. Ellison had back-to-back three-pointers that gave Oak Ridge a double-digit 12-point lead (17-5) late in the first quarter.
Hardin Valley (23-9) was led by 6-foot-2 junior Abbey Cornelius. She scored 15 points and had at least eight rebounds. Senior post Symphony Buxton added nine for the Lady Hawks.
Hardin Valley Coach Jennifer Galloway said the turnovers were big in the game.
“Most of the time when we turned it over, they scored,” Galloway said.
She said Oak Ridge played well and shot well.
The Lady Wildcats knew they couldn’t let up against the Lady Hawks, even with a 19-5 first-quarter lead and 33-20 halftime lead.
“This is a comeback team,” Redman told her girls at halftime, referring to Hardin Valley.
The Lady Wildcats knew that the Lady Hawks had just come back in a Region 2-AAA semifinal game against Maryville on Monday.
“We can’t let up,” Redman said.
Both teams are still in the playoffs. The win means that Oak Ridge will play at home at 7 p.m. Saturday in a Class AAA sectional against the Region 1 loser. Hardin Valley, the Region 2 runner-up, will travel to play at the home of the Region 1 winner. The Region 1-AAA winner and loser haven’t been determined yet; the championship game features Daniel Boone and Morristown West at Science Hill High School in Johnson City at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 2. (See the regional tournament bracket here.)
The eight winners of the Class AAA sectional games will advance to the state tournament at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro from March 8-11.
Oak Ridge finished as state runner-up in Class AAA in 2016.
Besides Guinn, who was named MVP, other Oak Ridge players named to the Region 2-AAA All Tournament Team on Wednesday were Dowdell, Ellison, and Golden. Cornelius and Buxton were also named to the All Tournament Team, as was senior Bekah Hampton.
Other District 3 and District 4 players named to the All Tournament Team were Brooklin McCoy of Anderson County; Jakhyia Davis and Trinity Lee of Bearden; Haley Comer of Campbell County; Courtney Carruthers of Maryville; Kaitlyn Lentz of Powell; and Taylor Goforth and Abbey McGuire of William Blount.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous story on the Region 2-AAA semifinals on Monday here.
See a story on last year’s Region 2-AAA championship win here.
See more photos here.
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