North Greene came out on top 45-42 in the District 1-A girls basketball championship game at Daniel Boone High School after Cloudland’s game-tying, 3-point attempt from the left corner missed as time expired.
It was a sense of relief for Lady Huskies coach James Buchanan, whose team (24-8) was led by Breezy Savage with 15 points and Shelby Davenport with 14. Tournament MVP Brooklyn Anderson was a force inside with 13 points.
“You have two teams that are very evenly matched. When you know each other so well, it becomes a chess match where you make adjustments on the fly,” Buchanan said. “I can’t say enough about our kids and the effort they gave tonight to pull it out at the end.
“I will sit up straight in bed thinking about 23 (Gracie Freeman) hitting another three. They’re a great team hard to stop, but I don’t want to sell my own kids short. You have to give them the credit. They made free throws and took care of the ball late, so we’re proud of them.”
The Lady Highlanders (23-5) countered with Jasmine Birchfield scoring 15 points and Freeman with 14. Buchanan praised the efforts of Cloudland guard Kenzie Birchfield in getting her team open looks, while the Lady Highlanders’ coach wasn’t surprised to see another game settled at the buzzer.
“It just didn’t go our way tonight. We matched them with big shot after big shot,” Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield said. “The kids didn’t quit. They were relentless and played their hearts out, nothing to be ashamed of.
“We’ve had some real battles, all three of them. These games make you better and you just have to move on to the next one.”
Freeman scored five points early as Cloudland raced out to an 8-2 lead and led 10-4 at the end of one quarter.
The Lady Huskies stormed back in the second quarter and took the halftime lead 19-16 on Savage’s 3-point shot with one second left. North Greene held a 28-26 lead at the end of three quarters and led throughout the fourth quarter, although by no more than a six-point advantage.
Cloudland had a chance to go ahead in the final 10 seconds before being called by a walk. Savage hit a pair of free throws with 5.8 seconds left for the final score.
Unaka 55, Hampton 45
The Lady Rangers (13-19) found success from 3-point range to hold off a game effort by the Lady Bulldogs (9-23).
Maci Ensor and Kiki Forney hit 3-point shots on back-to-back possessions after Hampton trailed by just a point, 32-31, in the third quarter. Challenged again in the fourth quarter, Unaka’s Jada Whitehead and Lyndie Ramsey knocked down shots behind the arc.
It wasn’t until hit free throws in the final minute that Unaka’s lead reached double digits.
Ramsey led the Lady Rangers with 21 points. Macy Ensor totaled 10 points and MacKenzie Depew scored seven.
“It was a team effort all the way around,” Unaka coach Kenneth Chambers said. “Defensively, I give credit to Hampton. Their guards played well and the big girl, we had a hard time guarding her inside.
“But, we stepped up at the end. They closed it to four or five, but we had some good kick-outs to Lyndie and Jada.”
Hazen Brumitt paced Hampton with 13 points. Linsey Jenkins scored nine and Hannah Collins finished with seven.