Six times the Lady Hurricanes had placed second in the holiday basketball tournament, sponsored by Domino’s Pizza, Dairy Cup and Coca-Cola. They finally won it Saturday night.
How they did it left coach Terry Livesay and the team’s band of followers ecstatic.
M-East defeated Elizabethton in overtime 56-55 after battling back from a 14-point deficit in the second half.
Megan Blaylock, selected the tourney’s Most Valuable Player, sank a one-plus free throw with 5.7 seconds remaining to decide the victory for a team whose record is only 6-6.
“We had an old coach at our school who used to say, ‘Un-Blank-Believable,’” Livesay said. “We have that on our T-shirts. It’s become our slogan. This was ‘Un-Blank-Believable’ tonight. It feels fantastic.’’
Elizabethton (11-3) led almost the entire game. M-East went ahead for the first time, 53-51, when Samantha Hale hit a 3-point goal with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. Chelsea Bowling’s free throw with five seconds to go sent the game into overtime.
“There were so many big shots in the game, my mind is a blur trying to recall them,’’ Livesay said. “But I don’t have any problem remembering Hale’s 3-pointer.
“This should be big for our confidence. We’d folded in the fourth quarter all year and tonight we had it.
“That’s a good ballclub we just beat,” the coach added. “We duked it out with a team that I expect to see make the Class AA sectional.’’
The first sign of trouble for the Lady Cyclones occurred when star center Mariah Petrowski got her fourth foul with 3:48 showing in the third quarter.
However, Kamra Fritz enabled Elizabethton to stretch its eight-point lead to 12 by hitting three consecutive outside shots.
“It was huge to see our girls play that way with Mariah on the bench,’’ Elizabethton coach Len Dugger said. “This game can make us a better team on down the road. This is a very young ballclub. We didn’t handle some situations right. I’m hurt over the loss but not upset.’’
The Lady Cyclones have been there before. They lost in the semifinals last year on a last-second shot.
Leah Leeper led the Lady Hurricanes’ offense with 18 points. Hale and Kayla Orrick each got 15.
Petrowski, despite sitting out eight minutes, was top gun for Elizabethton with 18 points. Bowling had 14 and Fritz 11.
Host Volunteer claimed consolation honors with a 63-55 win over Johnson County.
Laiken Gilliam fired up the home forces with a 19-point performance, anchoring the offense underneath the baskets.
Leading scorers for Johnson County were Lindsey Campbell and Kendra Mabe with 13 each.
Jerry Myers’ fast-improving Lady Falcons (4-8) took control of the game at the outset and gradually increased their lead.
Johnson County managed to trim a 15-point deficit in the final stages.