MURFREESBORO—The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats finished as state runner-up in the Class AAA girls’ basketball championship in Murfreesboro on Saturday. We published 11 pictures by Paul Ward in our Saturday story on the game. Here are a dozen more photos.
Note: This story was last updated at 4:10 p.m. March 13.
MURFREESBORO—Riverdale dominated, and Oak Ridge finished as state runner-up in the Class AAA girls basketball championship in Murfreesboro on Saturday.
The Lady Warriors (32-4) led from start to finish in their 68-36 win. They’ve now won five state titles since 2007, with the last one in 2013.
The Lady Wildcats (30-5) have won three state championships, with the last one in 1997.
The Oak Ridge and Riverdale teams both featured young players this year, and both were led Saturday by first-year coaches. Players from both teams said no one expected them to end up in the final Class AAA game of the 2016 BlueCross Basketball Championships. The two teams have already set their sights on next season.
Riverdale was led Saturday by junior Anastasia Hayes, a Miss Basketball finalist, with a game-high 27 points, three rebounds, and four steals. Sophomore Alexis Whittington scored 14, pulled down five rebounds, and had five assists. Her twin sister Amanda Whittington had six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 3:40 p.m.
First-year Oak Ridge Coach Paige Green and her young Lady Wildcats advanced to the state basketball championship game on Saturday after beating Bradley Central 38-31 in a Class AAA semifinal game in Murfreesboro on Friday.
It was a success story that few, if any, had predicted. Wildcats broadcasters called it a “miraculous journey” and a “Cinderella run.”
The Lady Wildcats were led by sophomore Mykia Dowdell with 15 points, nine rebounds, and two steals. Freshman Jada Guinn had nine points, two rebounds, and two assists, and sophomore Jaymi Golden added eight points, including late free throws that helped seal the win.
Oak Ridge (30-4) trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter, but they rallied starting late in that quarter and continuing through the fourth to knock off Bradley Central (32-4). The Lady Wildcats took a 26-25 lead with about 3.5 minutes left in the game on a feed across the lane from Golden to Guinn, who scored a layup.
Note: This story was last updated at 5:52 p.m.
Sophomore Desiree Bates came off the bench to lead Oak Ridge with 12 points in a 40-35 quarterfinal win in the state Class AAA basketball tournament in Murfreesboro on Wednesday.
The Lady Wildcats (28-4) were up 10 points at halftime, and they bounced back from a 15-4 Dyer County run in the third quarter to advance to the semifinal game in Murfreesboro on Friday.
Dyer County had three consecutive steals midway through the third quarter that they converted into eight points, helping to turn a 26-14 deficit late in the second quarter into a 29-26 lead midway through the third.
Oak Ridge prevailed despite their 19 turnovers and the game-high 18 points of Amber Thompson. Thompson knocked down three three-pointers and ignited the third-quarter surge for the Lady Choctaws (27-5), but she picked up her fourth foul with three minutes remaining in that quarter and had to go sit on the bench. [Read more…]
By David Clary
Saturday night, the miraculous journey of the Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats continues with a one-game opportunity to join a historic group of great girls basketball teams who have worn the Cardinal and Gray.
For 30 years, the Lady Wildcats dominated East Tennessee basketball and were a major state force as well, making 21 state tournament appearances and playing in nine state championship games along the way. Oak Ridge played a national schedule, being invited to the most elite women’s tournaments in America. They finished several seasons ranked in the USA Today’s Top 25 poll and earned a number two preseason ranking, garnishing them an invitation to Florida to take on the number one-ranked team in that same poll. Twice during this time they tasted victory over a number one nationally ranked team and once a defending national champion. But since 2010, things had changed.
Since their last substate win and state appearance, the Lady Wildcats have fallen on hard times, for them anyway. Anything less than at least a sectional for such a storied program like Oak Ridge meant an unsuccessful season. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 3:15 p.m. March 3.
KNOXVILLE—The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats upset Bearden and won their first Region 2-AAA championship since 2010 on Wednesday, and freshman Jada Guinn was named most valuable player in the regional tournament—one week after being named most valuable player in the district tournament.
The 49-35 win for Oak Ridge, the Region 2 champion, means the Lady Wildcats (27-4) will have home-court advantage when they play Dobyns-Bennett in a Class AAA sectional at Wildcat Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday. Dobyns-Bennett (25-10) is the Region 1 runner-up.
Bearden (27-6), the Region 2 runner-up, will also play in a Class AAA sectional, but the Lady Bulldogs will have to travel to Morristown West (30-3), the Region 1 champion.
Sectional winners advance to the state tournament. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 2:25 a.m.
KNOXVILLE—The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats battled back from an eight-point deficit in the second quarter of a Region 2 semifinal win against William Blount on Monday and kept their composure against a swarming defense to advance to the regional championship against Bearden on Wednesday.
The Lady Wildcats (26-4) permanently seized the lead about halfway through the second quarter behind the 10 first-half points of junior Courtney Ellison. They widened the lead to as many as 16 points in the second half before finishing ahead 64-53 in the Region 2-AAA elimination semifinal at Bearden High School.
Ellison led Oak Ridge with 21 points, a career high. Late in the third quarter, she made a three-point shot and a field goal within about 45 seconds to help open up a 44-31 lead. She added two more field goals from the left and right baseline late in the fourth quarter to maintain an Oak Ridge margin of about 10 points.
“I was really into it tonight,” Ellison said. “I was really wanting the win, and it was there.”
It’s the first time the Lady Wildcats have made it to the regional championship since 2010, the last year Jill Prudden coached Oak Ridge. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 1:35 p.m.
CLINTON—Led by the 21 points of freshman Jada Guinn, the Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats won the District 3-AAA championship for the first time since 2010 in a 52-34 victory over Campbell County on Tuesday.
Guinn, a point guard, was named the most valuable player of the district tournament, which was played at Anderson County High School. Her game-high 21 points on Tuesday was a career high.
The Lady Wildcats (24-4) played with intensity on Tuesday, when Oak Ridge won its third game this season against the Lady Cougars, the second seed in District 3-AAA. Campbell County’s only two district losses during the regular season were to Oak Ridge.
“Coach (Paige) Green told us to come out with a lot of energy,” Guinn said after the district championship win on Tuesday. “It’ll help our defense, and our defense can help with offense.”
Of her tournament MVP award, Guinn said: “I just feel happy because I’m a freshman, and I’m just really excited.” [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 11:30 a.m.
CLINTON—Oak Ridge and Campbell County will play for the District 3-AAA girls basketball championship on Tuesday.
Campbell County beat Powell 47-42 to advance to the championship in a semifinal game at Anderson County High School on Saturday, and Oak Ridge defeated Anderson County 54-28 in the other semifinal.
Oak Ridge, which was led by sophomore post Mykia Dowdell with 16 points on Saturday, won both matches with the Lady Cougars this year.
Tuesday’s final starts at 6 p.m. at Anderson County High School. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 3 a.m.
The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats pulled within two points, 28-26, with 10 seconds to go, but Fulton emerged with a 30-26 win at Wildcat Arena on Saturday.
It was the last regular-season game of the year for Oak Ridge (22-4, 16-0 District 3-AAA). The Lady Wildcats enter next week’s district tournament as the top seed and are guaranteed a spot in the Region 2 tournament. The Lady Wildcats finished the regular season undefeated in District 3-AAA after a 47-32 win at Campbell County on Friday.
This year’s game between Oak Ridge and Fulton was closer than last year’s, when the Lady Wildcats fell to the Lady Falcons 71-34.
The taller Fulton team (11-8, 4-4 District 3-AA) was led on Saturday by junior guard/post Keke McKinney, who had a game-high 16-points in the low-scoring game in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Wildcat Arena. Freshman guard Lay Lay Manning, who was fouled four times, made three free throws and two baskets for seven points total. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 2:50 p.m. Feb. 13.
The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats, who are undefeated in District 3-AAA, won the regular season district championship 47-32 at Campbell County on Friday.
Down by five points at halftime, Oak Ridge (22-3, 16-0 District 3-AAA) rallied in the second half to defeat the Lady Cougars and will enter next week’s district tournament as the top seed.
The Lady Wildcats were led by freshman point guard Jada Guinn, who scored 17 points. Junior guard Courtney Ellison had 10, sophomore post Mykia Dowdell added nine, and senior forward Caelyn Thompson scored seven.
Campbell County (23-5, 14-2) only lost two district games this year and both were to Oak Ridge. [Read more…]
Note: This story was last updated at 12:25 a.m.
The Oak Ridge Wildcats swept Gibbs at home on Friday, but University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones stole the show.
Although they couldn’t discuss why they were there, Jones and Zach Azzanni, UT wide receivers coach, were at Wildcat Arena on Friday to watch 6-foot-5 junior Tee Higgins. Besides playing basketball well, Higgins is also a wide receiver, defensive back, and kick returner who has committed to play football for the UT Volunteers. He was named Tennessee Titans Mr. Football in November, recognized as Back of the Year in Class 5A.
Jones and Azzanni also attended a Wildcats football game in the fall, when Oak Ridge beat Lenoir City 55-15 on September 18.
When Jones arrived at the basketball game on Friday, the excited student section—many of them dressed in Volunteer orange—began singing “It’s great to be a Tennessee Vol, I said, it’s great to be a Tennessee Vol!” [Read more…]