Note: This story was last updated at 1:30 p.m.
Turnovers and the 31 points of Memphis Central junior Johne’ Stewart hurt Oak Ridge in a 74-63 quarterfinal loss in the Class AAA girls’ basketball tournament in Murfreesboro on Wednesday.
The season is over for the Lady Wildcats (30-4), who were the state Class AAA runner-up last year.
The Lady Warriors (29-7) move on to a state semifinal game in Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University on Friday.
Oak Ridge had 21 turnovers in the quarterfinal, the first of the Class AAA BlueCross Basketball Championships on Wednesday. Memphis Central, a quick team that applied a lot of defensive pressure, scored 23 points off of Oak Ridge turnovers.
In comparison, the Lady Warriors had eight turnovers.
Stewart, a 5-foot-8 guard, had 24 points for Memphis Central in the first half alone. She finished 10-of-20 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line. Stewart also had four rebounds and three assists.
Oak Ridge was led by junior Desiree Bates, who came off the bench to score 20 points. She made four three-point shots. Bates also had seven rebounds.
Bates also led the Lady Wildcats in last year’s quarterfinal, a 40-35 win over Dyer County.
Senior guard Courtney Ellison, playing in her final game for the Lady Wildcats, had 14 points Wednesday. Ellison also had four rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Oak Ridge junior Mykia Dowdell, who battled an apparent bloody nose and three fouls in the first half, added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Wildcats.
Sophomore guard Jada Guinn, normally a top scorer for Oak Ridge, was held to four points. But Guinn had eight rebounds and six assists.
While Stewart dominated the first half for Memphis Central, senior Bionka Massie led the second. Massie finished with 16 points, and 14 of those were in the second half. She also had three steals.
Sophomore Kynadi Kuykendoll had 10 rebounds for the Lady Warriors, and junior Jireh Washington had seven assists and three steals.
The Lady Wildcats jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead behind the first six points of junior Destiny Kassner.
After the early Oak Ridge lead, the game was tied four times in the first quarter. But Memphis Central led 16-15 at the end of the first quarter and outscored the Lady Wildcats 25-14 in the second to take a 29-41 halftime lead. The Lady Warriors never trailed after the first quarter, although Oak Ridge was able to narrow a deficit of as many as 20 points early in the fourth quarter to as few as seven late in the game. A three-pointer by Bates with 1:45 remaining shrunk the Memphis Central lead to 68-61.
It was the second straight trip to the state tournament for both Oak Ridge and Memphis Central. Like the Lady Wildcats, the Lady Warriors also lost to Riverdale last year, with the Oak Ridge loss in the championship game and the Memphis Central loss in a semifinal.
It’s also the second trip to state for second-year Oak Ridge Coach Paige Redman. The Lady Wildcats have been undefeated in District 3-AAA during the regular season two years in a row, and they’ve been District 3-AAA and Region 2-AAA champions two consecutive years.
Memphis Central was the District 16-AAA third-place team and Region 8-AAA runner-up this year.
Riverdale (31-0), the only undefeated team and last year’s Class AAA champion, is back in the state tournament this year. Riverdale plays Morristown West (30-3) at 1:15 p.m. Central time in another quarterfinal game on Wednesday. Stewarts Creek (25-6) and Dickson County (28-7) play at 11:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. Eastern), and Houston (27-3) takes on Clarksville (27-5) at 2:45 p.m.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See the game statistics here.
See the 2017 Class AAA State Girls’ Basketball Tournament Bracket here.
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