GAINESBORO — The Red Boiling Springs High School girls basketball team was hoping for another postseason journey similar to last season’s.
However, the Lady Bulldogs were eliminated one win short of reaching the Class A sectional round for the second consecutive season.
RBS wasn’t able to overcome a slow start on Monday evening, ending its season with a 66-59 loss to Pickett County in a Region 4-1A Tournament semifinal contest played at Jackson County High School.
“I expected it to be close,” Lady Bulldog first-year head coach Terra Pryor-Allen said. “I thought it was either team’s night. Unfortunately, we couldn’t buy a shot.”
It was the third meeting between the District 7-1A foes this season. RBS captured a 52-41 win over the visiting Lady Bobcats on Jan. 13, but Pickett County avenged that setback with a 65-62 victory over the visiting Lady Bulldogs on Feb. 9.
“This time, they packed the paint more,” Pryor-Allen said. “Last time, they were more wide (in their defense).
“We just couldn’t make shots.”
Perimeter-oriented Red Boiling Springs made just four 3-pointers over the first 30 minutes of the contest.
“We wanted to get the ball in to Bre (Thompson, the Lady Bulldogs’ senior post player) and attack the basket,” Pryor-Allen said. “They ran that packed-in, half-court defense.
“If they are going to play like that, you have to knock shots down. We had every chance to win this game.”
The Lady Bulldogs never led as Pickett County — the No. 2 seed from District 7-1A — scored the first five points and built a nine-point lead by the time that senior forward Callie Reeder converted a layin at the 1:55 mark of the opening period.
Lady Bobocat forward Addy Lowe tossed in a 3-pointer from the right corner at the first-quarter buzzer, creating a 19-9 score.
The margin extended to 14 points on an Emmy Lowe putback with 6:17 remaining in the first half, but RBS responded by scoring the next eight points, starting with back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore Chloe Powell and senior Claire Fleming.
The lead swelled back to double figures late in the half, but Lady Bulldog junior Kennedy Marshall came off of the bench to convert a driving layin in the final minute, pulling her squad to within nine points (32-23) at halftime.
Thompson had back-to-back baskets early in the second half to recreate a six-point margin, but behind six third-quarter points from Emmy Lowe, the lead swelled back to 14 points (50-36) entering the final period.
Emmy Lowe finished with a team-leading 18 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter, and teammate Zoey Nicholas provided 16 points.
Fleming trimmed the lead back to six points (58-52) by sinking a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining, and RBS regained possession seven seconds later thanks to a Lady Bobcat turnover.
However, the Lady Bulldogs misfired on a 3-pointer that could have cut the lead to three points.
Pickett County (20-9) made 6 of 8 free-throw attempts over the final 61 seconds to seal the win.
All four teams in the regional semifinals were from District 7-1A.
The regional semifinal winners advance to the regional championship game and also earn a spot in one of Saturday’s sectional contests.
Sectional winners advance to next week’s Division I State Tournament at Middle Tennessee State University.
The Lady Bobcat program — which won all five of its state titles from 1977-89 — has reached the state tournament five times since 2015.
Teams that lose in the regional semifinal round are eliminated.
Pickett County advanced to face Clarkrange, which defeated District 7-1A regular season and tournament champion Clay County in Monday’s other semifinal by a 55-48 score.
“I would about rather play in any other (Class) AA district or region tournament out there than than this district,” Pryor-Allen said.
RBS concluded the season with an 18-14 record, with 10 of those losses coming by 10 points or less.
“We’ve not lost a game by a lot,” Pyror-Allen said. “We’ve lost a lot of games by three or four points. Some of that is on me.
“Coach (Jeff) Beam (Pryor-Allen’s head coach at Macon County High School) said it best … you have to have some cupcakes (lower-quality opponents) on your schedule. I didn’t feel like we had those, except for maybe two games, all year. We have to have one of the toughest single-A schedules out there.”
Fleming poured in a game-high 32 points, 20 of which came in the second half (14 in the fourth quarter). Thompson finished with 12 points.
Fleming and Thompson are the team’s only seniors.
“I know that it’s just my first year, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be fortunate enough to coach another kid like Claire … on the court and off the court,” Pryor-Allen said. “She’s played on a bad ankle. She never let that stop her. We’re going to miss her a lot. She’s such a good kid.
“Bre Thompson is the same way. She’s one of the best kids you could ever ask for. They never miss a workout. It’ll be hard to replace them.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.