Courtney Whitson’s presence was unmistakable for Dobyns-Bennett, but her teammates made sure she had all the support she needed with a late third-quarter game-clinching spurt in a 46-31 win over Sevier County in the semifinals of the Region 1-AAA girls basketball tournament at Daniel Boone’s Snyder Gym on Monday night.
“When you have kids coming off the bench who can give you those kind of minutes, that’s huge,” said Lady Indians coach Bill Francis. “And I think our bench, in both games in this tournament, has done a great job. We talked about it; whether you play a minute or 20 minutes, we’ve got to have production.”
Continuing to trek upon new ground for wins, the Lady Indians (28-6) secured a sectional berth and moved into Wednesday’s title game at 7 p.m. against Science Hill (29-3). The Lady Hilltoppers disposed of Daniel Boone easily, winning 68-55.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Sevier County’s hopes were greatly diminished.
First, Elle Francis drained a long 3-pointer to give D-B a 31-21 lead. On the next possession, Caitlyn Wallace got a nice feed from Francis and made a difficult short bank shot while getting fouled. Wallace missed the free throw, but Jabrea Johnson battled past her defender for the offensive rebound and was fouled on the shot attempt. She made 1 of 2 free throws.
What was a seven-point game went to 13, and the Lady Bears were basically done.
LEADING THE WAY
Whitson certainly did her part with 20 points and four 3-pointers, and she was also a big factor on the glass. She said the loss to Science Hill in the district final brought something to her attention.
“The game against Science Hill was kind of a wake-up call,” Whitson said. “In those types of games I have to take over, so my teammates can hop on my back. That’s my role.”
Teammate Ta-Tionna White chipped in with 10 points.
Both teams played through a sluggish first half offensively, partly because of tight defense on each end of the court. But that didn’t keep Whitson from scoring 13 of her team’s 19 points, and the Lady Indians built a six-point halftime lead.
The Lady Indians earned the fifth sectional appearance in school history but their first since Whitson’s freshman year.
“These kids’ goal since back in May was to get to Murfreesboro,” Francis said. “We now have the opportunity where one win can get us there. I’m happy for these kids.”
The Lady Bears (17-14), the District 2-AAA champions, were led in scoring by Emma Huskey’s nine points.
LADY ’TOPPERS MOVE ON
Alasia Smith cut loose for 27 points, 13 rebounds and three steals, leading the Lady Hilltoppers to their fourth win over the Lady Trailblazers this season.
“She’s a heck of a player,” said Science Hill coach Scottie Whaley. “Everybody knows that.
“She comes to play every night. For three years, she has played hard every game. She just sets the tone for us.”
Jeila Greenlee added 13 points for Science Hill. Samantha Fugate had seven points and eight rebounds, and Yana Hill totaled six points, four assists and three steals. Erin Egerbrecht chipped in with eight points.
Daniel Boone (22-11) got strong efforts from Jaycie Jenkins (21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists) and Bayleigh Carmichel (16 points, 8 rebounds) in its season-ending loss.