As the ball deflected off the right side of the backboard, Tennessee High’s run of three straight District 1-AAA girls basketball championships came to an end.
After trailing all game, Dobyns-Bennett took its first lead with 2:56 remaining and held on during a frantic final minute to claim a thrilling 40-39 win in semifinal action at Volunteer High School.
The Lady Indians advance to face Science Hill on Monday in the title game. The Lady Hilltoppers beat South 50-45 in the other semifinal.
D-B and Science Hill will battle to become the first team other than Tennessee High or Daniel Boone to win a District 1-AAA title this decade.
“We were behind, but we never gave up and we never quit,” D-B coach Roger France said. “This is a big win for our program.”
The Tribe had tied the game on three occasions, but D-B was unable to get over the hump until Blaine Frohlich hit a shot in the paint with a little less than three minutes to go in the game to give the Lady Indians a 35-33 lead.
Tennessee High promptly tied the game on the ensuing possession, but Holly France countered with a 3-pointer from the right corner moments later to give the Tribe a lead it would never relinquish.
Frohlich scored 12 points, making her the only Lady Indian in double figures, but her coach said no one person was responsible for the victory.
“We were very resilient and I thought it was a great team effort,” he said. “I can’t say enough about every kid who stepped out on that floor.”
After his team trailed the entire first half, France switched to a zone defense and held the Lady Vikings to a much slower pace than they were comfortable with.
“Every team we’ve played has tried to get us into a half-court game,” Tennessee High coach Kim Bright said. “They did that — I thought they controlled the tempo in the second half.”
Montgomery scored 13 points and Brittney Salyer added 12 to pace the Lady Vikings (21-9), who will face South in the consolation game Monday night at 6.
While D-B (19-8) slowed the pace of play to earn a trip to the finals, Science Hill concentrated on slowing Samantha Williams and Natalie Pickwell.
The Lady Hilltoppers kept an extra player in the paint to avoid penetration and kept South’s offense off balance for long stretches as a result.
Williams managed 19 points and 10 rebounds, but Pickwell was held to an uncharacteristic seven-point performance.
“The kids executed our game plan well,” Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell said. “We felt like we needed a little extra help on (Pickwell and Williams).”
South (20-7) went on a 10-3 run to open the game, but the Lady Hilltoppers answered with a 11-0 run of their own to take a lead they never surrendered.
The Lady Rebels got within two points with two minutes left in the game, but Science Hill made enough free throws and defensive stops down the stretch to hold on.
“We couldn’t get a good shot off,” South coach Josh Tate said. “That’s a credit to their good defense — they made the stops when they needed them.”
Jordan Douglas scored 14 points to lead Science Hill (21-9), which will play D-B at 7:30.