Nobody would give any style points for the Lady Trailblazers' rough-and-tumble 59-46 win over Cocke County in the first round of the Region 1-AAA tournament Friday night, but Boone lived to fight another day.
The Lady 'Blazers will face Greeneville on Monday.
"We knew they were very good," Boone coach Tim Campbell said of Cocke County. "But they play a very physical style of basketball and we knew it was going to be this kind of game."
Half-court sets dissolved into scrums with bodies littering the floor on nearly every possession and, after five minutes of action, neither team had managed to score.
"I looked up and it was still zero-zero after four minutes," Campbell said. "I started to wonder if either team was going to score."
Cocke County's Shannon DePew finally broke the ice by knocking down a 15-footer with 2:42 to go in the first quarter.
For the Lady Trailblazers, it took a little bit longer to take the lid off the basket. Boone managed only three foul shots in the first half, and the Lady Trailblazers entered the second quarter trailing 5-3.
Holly Nickels finally hit a layup with just more than six minutes to go in the second period, giving Boone its first field goal in 20 minutes of postseason play dating back to the third quarter of the district title game against Tennessee High.
That shot opened the floodgates, spurring a 16-4 Lady Trailblazer run that gave Boone a 10-point lead at halftime.
"That was the most crucial quarter of the season," Campbell said. "Holly took over there in the second quarter."
Nickels, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, said it was only a matter of time before shots started falling.
"The momentum was crazy," she said. "We were being smart, making good passes and taking good shots, but they just weren't falling."
The Lady Red made a run in the third, closing within four points near the end of the quarter.
But another Lady Trailblazer run, this time 10-2, extended the lead into double figures and Cocke County was unable to threaten down the stretch as the game developed into a foul shooting contest.
The teams combined to shoot 83 free throws in the game, keeping the officiating crew from Knoxville working hard until the final horn.
Cocke County shot just 29 free throws while Boone found its way to the line 59 times thanks to plenty of penetration and crafty interior passing.
"It's been a strength for us all year," Campbell said. "Our point guards do a good job finding openings and it really turned the tide."
The Lady 'Blazers outscored the Lady Red 30-17 at the line, providing the difference in the contest.
Autumn Gillis had 14 points and six rebounds for Boone (18-16) while Kaitlin Harmon added 10 points and four boards.
DePew led Cocke County (18-12) with 18 points and eight rebounds. Morgan Buda had 10 points and Courtney Lewis added 11 points and eight boards for the Lady Red.
The Lady Trailblazers advance to face the Lady Greene Devils at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Sullivan South.
Campbell said he hopes to have a good fan turnout as his Lady 'Blazers square off against the top team in the state.
"We sure would like to have some support over at South," he said. "We're going to need everything we can get against Greeneville."