BEARDENâ€”The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats finished as runner-up in the regional basketball tournament at Bearden on Wednesday, and they will play in a sectional game, which determines who goes to the state tournament, at Daniel Boone in upper East Tennessee this evening (Saturday, March 3).
The runner-up in Region 2-AAA (Oak Ridge) plays at the winner of Region 1-AAA (Daniel Boone). The runner-up in Region 1-AAA (Jefferson County) plays at the winner of Region 2-AAA (Bearden). The games start at 7 p.m.
The eight girls’ teams that win in the Class AAA sectionals in Tennessee will advance to the state basketball tournament at Middle State State University in Murfreesboro on Wednesday.
Tonight’s game is the first sectional game on the road for the Lady Wildcats since 2005 at Greeneville, according to broadcaster David Clary.
Oak Ridge (25-6) played two regional games this week. The Lady Wildcats beat Maryville 40-35 in a Region 2-AAA semifinal game at Bearden on Monday, and they lost to Bearden 57-45 in the championship game on Wednesday.
The Oak Ridge girls opened up a 17-1 lead in the first quarter of the elimination game against Maryville (22-8) on Monday. Senior Jaymi Golden, who had a game-high 16 points, knocked down three three-point shots in those first eight minutes. And seniors Desiree Bates and Mykia Dowdell, who finished with seven points total, each added a three-pointer of their own.
“We shot the ball incredibly well in that first quarter,” Oak Ridge Coach Paige Redman said.
But Oak Ridge went cold shooting from outside later, andÂ Maryville scored as many points or more than Oak Ridge in each of the next three quarters to narrow the Lady Wildcats’ lead: 9-4 in the second quarter, 9-9 in the third, and 16-10 in the fourth.
“We had to rely on our defense,” Redman said.
Oak Ridge got turnovers, but many of them went out of bounds, giving Maryville a chance to set up its defense, Redman said.
She called the regional semifinal game the toughest of the season. The season is over for the loser, while the winner gets two more games: the regional championship and a sectional game.
Freshman Gracie Midkiff, who led the Lady Rebels with 15 points, made three three-point shots for Maryville in the fourth quarter, when there were 15 free throws between the two teams in the final minute.
Sophomore Katie Cunningham added 11 points for Maryville, and junior Jada Guinn scored 13 for Oak Ridge.
The two teams were roughly equal in terms of shooting. Oak Ridge was 11-of-30 overall, according to preliminary game statistics by Mark Haste, while Maryville was 11-of-31.
In the Region 2-AAA championship on Wednesday, Bearden had a height advantage, with two 6-foot-2 post players, sophomore Jakhyia Davis and senior Grace Van Rij. Oak Ridge’s tallest starters, Dowdell and junior Shatryah Copeland, were both listed as 5-foot-10.
Still, Oak Ridge defended the height well, Redman said, holding the two Bearden post players to a combined 21 points.
But the other role players for the Lady Bulldogs (27-7) contributed.
“They stepped up,” Redman said. “No one missed. We did the exact opposite. We missed shots.”
Oak Ridge sometimes didn’t push for shots in transition, she said.
Guinn led Oak Ridge with 16 points, with half of those in the third quarter.
Bates added nine points for Oak Ridge, including on two three-point shots; Golden scored six; and Dowdell, senior Destiny Kassner, and Raja Eckles had four each. Dowdell also had at least four rebounds, three assists, and two steals, while Guinn had at least three rebounds and two assists.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by senior Trinity Lee with a game-high 19 points, including three three-point shots.Â Davis added 12.
Also scoring for Bearden, which beat Campbell County 52-36 in the other semifinal on Monday, were Van Rij with nine and junior Annaka Hall with eight in the championship on Wednesday.
Davis and Van Rij had at least six rebounds each, and Van Rij had at least three assists while Davis had a few steals and a block.
Bearden led at the end of each quarter (16-9, 27-19, 44-33, and 57-45), and both teams played zone defense.
Bearden shot the basketball more efficiently. They were 20-of-38 overall: 15-of-27 from two-point range and 5-of-11 from three-point range). The Lady Bulldogs were also 12-of-16 from the free throw line, according to statistics by Haste.
Oak Ridge, meanwhile, was 19-of-50: 17-of-37Â from two-point range and 2-of-13 from three-point range. The Lady Wildcats were 5-of-9 from the free throw line.
Before their loss this year, the Lady Wildcats had won the regional championship two years in a row. Last year, they defeatedÂ Hardin Valley 71-42 in the Region 2-AAA title game.
Tonight’s Class AAA sectional game between Oak Ridge and Daniel Boone (29-4) is being broadcast onÂ FM 92.7, http://Prepradio.com, and Channel 15, Clary said.
Redman said it’s not impossible to go on the road and win a sectional, but it’s about attitude and effort.
“You either want to do it, or you don’t,” she said.
Daniel Boone beat Jefferson County (22-11) 47-31 in the Region 1-AAA championship in Dandridge on Wednesday.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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