MURFREESBORO — Just when it looked like Elizabethton was getting in position to beat the defending state champions, the Lady Cyclones went stone cold from the field.
Scoring droughts of 6:49 and 4:21 in the second half were too much for Elizabethton to overcome, and it suffered a tough 51-47 loss to Christ Presbyterian Academy in the semifinals of the Class AA state basketball tournament Friday at Murphy Center.
It was a season-ending loss for the Lady Cyclones, who finished at 29-5. CPA advanced to play Macon County, a 64-54 winner over Christian Academy of Knoxville in today's championship game at 7 p.m. (EST).
With Reazyn DeMoss stepping to the forefront, Elizabethton battled out to a 26-21 halftime lead. DeMoss then hit a 3-pointer and another bucket as part of a 7-0 run to start the second half, giving Elizabethton a 12-point lead.
DeMoss made another shot with 4:57 left in the third quarter, but the Lady Cyclones would not score again until DeMoss hit a pair of free throws with 6:08 left in the game.
During that stretch, CPA tied the game with an 11-0 run.
It was 37-37 when the Lady Cyclones came back to life. Kelci Marosites drained a 3-pointer with 5:20 remaining, and then scored another bucket to make it 42-37.
But once again, Elizabethton hit a wall. The Lady Lions got a pair of free throws, a transition bucket from Lauren Thompson, and a jumper from Faith LeGate to take a 43-42 lead.
As odd as it may sound, even though that bucket came with 2:45 remaining and it was just a one-point lead, CPA seemed to have a grasp on victory.
“I thought that too,” said CPA head coach Becky LeGate. “I didn't think we had won it at that point, but I felt like our experience would take over. Take out Livingston Academy, and the last six games we won by six points or less. We had to fight for every game.”
Dugger said his team struggled and also rushed some shots down the stretch.
“I thought we took it to the rim a little too fast,” he said.
Elizabethton got some looks, but couldn't finish. Meanwhile, CPA paraded to the foul line and made 6 of 8 tosses for a 49-42 lead.
Kelci Marosites then converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 49-45 with 11.7 seconds left.
However, the Cyclones were forced to foul, and Meredith Roman sealed the win with two free throws.
Roberts made a bucket at the buzzer for the Cyclones.
DeMoss — who turned in a superb performance, scoring 21 points with seven rebounds and zero turnovers — said CPA tightened up defensively in the second half.
“They switched who was guarding me, and I couldn't score on them,” said DeMoss, who was 4 of 7 from 3-point land and gave her team a chance to win.
Dugger said he believed CPA was a little too physical.
“You might say they got tougher, but I thought there was a little more body,” said Dugger. “We took it to the rim and (the referees) let it get a little physical there.”
Freshman Kelci Marosites added 12 points and three assists for the Cyclones. Her twin sister Kayla, who scored 30 points in the quarterfinal win over Martin Westview, managed five points, five rebounds and three steals before fouling out with 1:09 left in the game.
LeGate stood out for CPA, totaling 21 points and nine rebounds. Thompson was a paint monster with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Roman finished with 16 points and four assists.
All three of those players have signed Division I deals. LeGate signed with Lipscomb while Thompson and Roman are headed to Belmont.
Dugger said he was proud of what his team accomplished.
“This group has been a dream,” he said. “They believed in one another. And Coach (Elvin) Brown and Coach (Richard) Hyder were a huge help.”