Tuesday night, the Lady Generals got the “threep.”
Jalan McPherson scored 17 points while Chelsea Cluesman put up 16 as Lee outgunned the Lady Blue Devils 56-43 in the Clinch Mountain District tournament semifinals at Virginia High.
“It’s hard to beat a good team three times. We had to fight for it,” said Cluesman, who also grabbed six rebounds for the Lady Generals (18-5).
The win propelled Lee into Friday’s 7 p.m. championship game vs. Virginia High. The Lady Bearcats (20-3) beat John Battle 57-43 in Tuesday’s nightcap.
Lee High, which beat Gate City 49-32 on Friday, shot 60 percent from the field with its leading scorers among the exemplars. Cluesman was 7-for-7 from the floor while McPherson was 6-for-7.
McPherson drained one of Lee High’s two 3-pointers, but most of the Lady Generals’ buckets were inside of 10 feet.
“We try to attack through whoever’s open, whether it’s in the paint or outside. Tonight it was in the paint,” McPherson said.
Cara Copeland had seven rebounds for Lee while Rachel Wynn boxed out for six. Sareena Music distributed four assists.
“They played their hearts out, I’ll give them that,” said Lady Generals coach Stephanie Ward. “They scrapped and got after it. I think we got the ball up the floor and didn’t let their full-court pressure bother us much.”
Thanks to a scorebook technical foul, Cluesman put the Lady Generals out front with a free throw before the first second ticked off the clock.
The lead swapped out nine times in the first quarter before Lee went on a 9-1 run in the final two minutes. McPherson primed that surge, scoring off a Cluesman dish at 1:50 and adding a three-point play off transition six seconds later.
The Lady Generals led 28-14 on a pair of Music free throws at 3:05 in the second quarter. Prior to that, Cluesman swooped through the lane for a couple of unanswered buckets.
“She just took it strong to the bucket and took it on her shoulders,” Ward said.
The Lady Blue Devils (5-18) got a 16-point effort from Samantha Horner. Rachel Horner and Tia Vermillion added 10 apiece.
“Tia played her butt off defensively but we didn’t have enough people stepping in to help. Our backside defense ... we didn’t have any,” said Gate City coach Kelly Houseright, whose squad could yet earn a Region D, Division 2 tournament berth if it defeats John Battle in Friday’s 4 p.m. third-place game.
A couple of Rachel Horner treys in the final two minutes of the second quarter cut the halftime lead to 10 points. Gate City closed it to 35-27 on Vermillion’s baseline jumper at 4:52 in the third period. That was as close as the Lady Blue Devils would get.
Cluesman drove home another one at 4:41. On the following two possessions McPherson and Tori Cope each sank shots with their heels to the arc, putting Lee in command for good.
In the nightcap, Virginia High got 16 points from Abigail Shankel, the bright spot in an overall team performance coach Barry Reed thought was fairly uninspired.
“We ought to be having a heck of a lot more enthusiasm than we had two weeks ago and it’s really just the opposite. We don’t have the enthusiasm right now I thought we’d have,” Reed said.
Lauryn Denton added 10 points for the Lady Bearcats, while Hannah Shankel scored nine.
Ashley Bryant had 17 points to lead the Lady Trojans (5-15) while Brittni Altmann fired up 14.
“I think we did a good job tonight. That’s a pretty good team we played up there,” said Battle coach Kevin Perrigan.