GLADEVILLE — Wilson Central’s girls defied the belief it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season by beating visiting for the third time in 2020-21, ousting the Lady Bears in the District 9-AAA play-in game 35-26 Sunday afternoon.

Not that the Lady Bears didn’t make a try at making the old basketball saying come true, rallying from a 5-0 deficit to go up 11-5 as Kaitlyn Bertram bagged three first-half 3-pointers over Wilson Central’s zone.

But the Lady Wildcats climbed back, taking an 12-11 lead into halftime as Campbell Strange drove the lane for the go-ahead layup with 54 seconds left.

The Lady Wildcats, by now having switched to man-to-man, continued their run in the second half, opening a 16-11 lead midway through the third quarter.

But with Strange saddled with four fouls, the Lady Bears had some runs left, getting to within 16-14 and 18-16 before 3-pointers by Kristen Smith and a buzzer-beater from the top by Sydney Dalton gave the Lady Wildcats a seemingly commanding 25-16 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Wilson Central extended the lead further to 29-16 in the 40.5 seconds left and Dalton deposited a free throw to make the margin a two-score game. Strange capped the day with a driving layup for a three-point play as the Lady Wildcats climbed to 3-17 for the season going into Monday night’s quarterfinal/elimination at top-seeded Lebanon.

Mt. Juliet finished a 1-21 campaign.

Dalton dropped in two 3s in leading the Lady Wildcats with 14 points while Strange scored 11, Smith seven and Lillian Crutchfield three. Central won despite sinking just 8 of 24 free throws.

Bertran threw in three triples as she led the Lady Bears with 15 points in her Mt. Juliet finale. Kayley Jones scored six points, Addie Kendall and former Lady Wildcat Jakoria Woods two each and Dymond Howard a free throw as MJ sank 6 of 10 free throws.

Monday’s Wilson Central-Lebanon quarterfinal was the first of a double header with the schools’ boys’ teams following. In West Wilson, Green Hill’s boys hosted Mt. Juliet after the Lady Hawks entertained Station Camp.

Monday’s winners played in Tuesday’s semifinals. Consolations and championships are tonight at the higher-seeded teams’ gyms with Region 5-AAA action tipping off Friday (girls) and Saturday (boys).

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