The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats’ basketball season ended Saturday with a 62-51 loss at Daniel Boone High School in a Class AAA sectional game. The eight sectional games across Tennessee determine which eight teams go to the state tournament in Murfreesboro this week.
It was the last high school game for five talented, experienced Oak Ridge seniors: Desiree Bates, Destiny Kassner, Jaymi Golden, Mykia Dowdell, and Terrika Dean. They are part of a team that finished as Class AAA state runner-up in 2016 and made it to a state quarterfinal last year.
“This will be the biggest hit that we’ve taken,” Paige Redman, who has coached the Oak Ridge girls for three seasons, told broadcaster David Clary at Prepradio.com. “This was the group that we started with.”
Oak Ridge (25-7) advanced to the 2017 state tournament last year by beating Daniel Boone 61-44 in a sectional game at Wildcat Arena—after trailing early and being tied 20-20 at halftime.
In this year’s rematch in Gray, which is in upper East Tennessee, the two teams traded leads six times, and they were tied three times.
The Lady Trailblazers took the lead for good, 51-49, on a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter.
Daniel Boone (30-4) was led by senior guard Macie Culbertson, a Belmont signee who scored a game-high 25 points. She also had seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and was 10-of-10 from the free throw line, according to the Johnson City Press. She made six straight free throws in the final minute of the game.
Redman told Clary that Daniel Boone shot well from the perimeter, and when they missed, they had putback shots. Missed boxouts on rebounds and turnovers also hurt Oak Ridge, she said.
Daniel Boone made it to the Class AA state tournament in 1997 and 1998, but this is the first time the Lady Trailblazers have made it to the Class AAA basketball tournament.
Oak Ridge was trying to return to the state tournament for the third straight year under Redman.
The Lady Wildcats were led Saturday by junior Jada Guinn, who scored 15 points, and Dowdell, who added 14. Guinn also had 10 rebounds and four assists, and Dowdell pulled down nine rebounds, the Johnson City Press said.
Oak Ridge trailed 14-15 at the end of one quarter, led 30-26 at halftime, and trailed 41-43 at the end of the third quarter—after Daniel Boone went on a 7-0 run to begin the second half, starting with a three-point shot by Jaycie Jenkins, who finished with 11 points.
Oak Ridge briefly had a one-point lead midway through the fourth quarter after Dowdell, who has signed to play at Middle Tennessee State University, scored and made a free throw, but the lead didn’t last long for the Lady Wildcats.
Other top scorers for Daniel Boone were Bayleigh Carmichel with 12 points and Sydney Pearce with 11. Pearce, a 6-foot-4 senior who will play for Carson-Newman, also had nine rebounds and three blocks, while Jenkins had four steals and Carmichel had two, according to the Johnson City Press.
Oak Ridge finished 15-1 in District 3-AAA during the regular season this year and won their third straight district championship before finishing as Region 2-AAA runner-up. The girls had been going for their third straight regional championship.
Daniel Boone finished 10-0 in District 1-AAA during the regular season and won the district championship for the second year in a row and won the Region 1-AAA championship after finishing as runner-up last year. It was the first regional title in 15 years for Daniel Boone.
This year’s sectional game between Oak Ridge and Daniel Boone featured many of the same players who battled at Wildcat Arena last year.
While Dowdell has signed to play at MTSU, Golden has signed at Queens University of Charlotte and Kassner has signed at Bryan College.
In another sectional game on Saturday, Bearden (28-7), the Region 2 champion, beat Jefferson County 55-39 to advance to the state tournament.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Here are a few more file photos from last year’s sectional game so you can see some of the players involved in this year’s game:
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