Friendship Christian’s girls, half of whom are still in eighth-grade, passed their first survive-and-advance test in high school tournament play.
The Lady Commanders held off a late Mt. Juliet Christian rally to prevail 41-31 in the opening round of the East-Middle District 1-A tournament at the Bay Family Sportsplex on Thursday night.
The Lady Commanders led 22-12 at halftime as center Abbey Hinton had 16 of her 19 points in the opening 16 minutes.
Friendship widened the margin to 29-15 going into the fourth before Mt. Juliet Christian, with Lauren Wankel scoring eight of her 12 in the final eight minutes, closed to within 33-27 with around three minutes left.
But the Lady Commanders connected on their free throws and veteran Taylor Patterson got the roll on a desperation fallaway to seal the Lady Saints’ fate as Friendship advanced with a 7-12 record.
“Being so young, I think we, a lot of times, play not to lose instead rather than play to win,” said Friendship coach Deanna Teeter, whose Lady Commanders will catch top-seed Knoxville Webb at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the semifinals at Donelson Christian. “The second half, we came out and played not to lose and played really tight and instead loose like we were in the first half.
“But that again comes with maturity. And we’re maturing, we’re getting better. Ultimately when you come in and play games like tonight, it allows us to grow as players. Hopefully, we learn from this and take the next step.”
Ashlyn Pittman put in 10 points for Friendship while eighth-grade twin sister Hailey scored seven and Patterson five.
Amanda Wall scored seven points, Carly Hummel six, Meredith Orr four and Caroline Scott two as the Lady Saints finished an 11-12 season.
Tonight’s winner will play for the championship at 3:30 p.m. Saturday while the loser will play for third place at noon with only the third-place finisher joining the champion and runner-up in the East-Middle Region tournament.
Tigerettes race to first win at RBS in 20 years
RED BOILING SPRINGS — Watertown’s girls were clicking from inside and outside as they ended a 20-year drought at Red Boiling Springs with a 72-53 victory Thursday night.
The Tigerettes went on a 21-13 first-quarter tear and doubled the Lady Bulldogs in the second to lead 41-23 at halftime. It was 62-38 through three as Watertown, winning here for the first time since 1994, improved to 17-9 for the season and 8-1 in District 8-A with only tonight’s 6 p.m. trip to Trousdale County left on the regular-season schedule.
Center Bobbi Staats muscled in 22 points from inside while Shelby Mofield riddled RBS from outside with five three-pointers for her 15. Lone senior Alicia Jennings penetrated for 10 while Katie Dalton and Jasmine High each scored six, Bay Cole and Dae Dae Nunley four apiece, Mya Huddleston three and Mya Gaines two.
Kaitlyn McCarter connected on three triples in leading the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points while Mayson Burgener added 11.
Watertown will play host to next week’s district tournament, whose start has been pushed back a day. The girls will play first-round games Tuesday and the boys Thursday, followed by girls’ semifinal action Friday and boys Saturday. The Tigerettes have essentially clinched a first-round bye and won’t play until next Friday. With the bye, they have also sealed a berth in the Region 4-AAA tournament.
Purple Tigers bounce back to beat Bulldogs
RED BOILING SPRINGS — Following a home wipeout by Gordonsville on Tuesday, Watertown’s boys bounced back to get a 49-45 win at Red Boiling Springs two nights later.
The Purple Tigers, who lost by 28 on Tuesday, roared to a 16-6 first-quarter lead and held serve for a 29-19 halftime advantage before the Bulldogs battled back to within 38-34 going into the fourth as Watertown improved to 11-13 for the season and 6-3 in District 8-A going into tonight’s regular-season finale at Trousdale County.
Brandon George and Dylan Speck scored 12 points apiece for the Purple Tigers while Devin High had eight, Hunter Warren six, Ty Jobe five and Lucas Coleman and cousins Colin and Cameron Jennings two each.
Alex Mullinix scored 16 points, Brince Crouch 11 and Nick Deckard 10 for Red Boiling Springs.
Commanders end rough year at DCA
DONELSON — A frustrating first season ended for Ben Johnson as his Friendship Christian Commanders were ousted from the East-Middle District 1-A tournament at Donelson Christian 58-27 Thursday night.
Friendship finished 1-18 and leaving Johnson looking ahead to the future as only Adam Neal [injured the second half of the season] and Michael Hawks will graduate.
“Frustrating as far as wins and losses, but at the same time there was a lot of learning going on. We’ll be better for it,” said Johnson, noting that with five teams at the school from the fifth grade on up, there is talent coming up through the pipeline. “The future’s bright. We just got to keep our focus.”
With Clay Hertel focusing on swishing five three-pointers on his way to 28 points, DCA led 11-2 following the first quarter, 27-7 at halftime and 43-19 through three as the Wildcats advanced with a 19-5 record.
Joseph McNamee nailed four triples of his own to lead Friendship with 12 points. Gregory Elliott scored seven, Andrew Wood four and Zach Blair and Colton Gaines two each.
Ezell-Harding boys slip past Saints
ANTIOCH — Host Ezell-Harding pulled away from Mt. Juliet Christian in the final three minutes to slip past the Saints 62-50 in the opening round of the East-Middle District 1-A tournament Thursday night.
Ryan Caldwell’s three-pointer at the third quarter broke a third-quarter tie for a 33-30 Ezell lead. The Eagles were still up by three when the Saints had to foul over the final three minutes.
“This game was closer than the final 12,” Mt. Juliet Christian coach Paul Christensen said after his Saints closed a 10-14 season. “We just couldn’t make a foul shot.”
While the Eagles dropped in 18 of 25 from the line, the Saints sank only 8 of 22.
Kevin Rimmer scored 17 points from inside and Al Batson 12 from outside for the Eagles, who led 17-11 following the first quarter and 21-19 at halftime.
Zack Willis, one of four Saint seniors, scored 17 points from the post while Justus Willis sank three 3-pointers on his way to 11. Newman Ward added eight while senior Drew Headrick had five, senior Alex Graves four, Wyatt Oberg a three and senior Gilbert Russ two.