In a matter of 32 minutes Tuesday, the Tribe’s dream scenario of hosting the district and regional basketball tournaments evaporated into a nightmarish reality — a season-ending 44-39 loss to Sullivan South in the quarterfinals of the District 1-AAA tournament.
“We were playing at home, we had everything the way we needed it to be and we didn’t respond the way we needed to respond,” D-B coach Roger France said. “I just don’t think we were emotionally ever in the game.”
The Lady Indians were just 3-for-15 from the floor in the first quarter, committed over 20 turnovers and trailed virtually the entire game, yet they still had a chance to win in the final minute.
But D-B committed a pair of turnovers in the final 60 seconds while South’s Makensey Campbell and Ashley Johnson made just enough free throws to put the game out of reach.
“I think it was a sense of panic then,” France said of the late miscues. “I think we were pressing — we were playing not to lose and they were playing to win.”
For South coach Josh Tate, Tuesday’s upset was something he saw coming as the regular season wound down.
“I’ve been calling it all month long,” Tate said. “The perfect storm’s brewing — we’re going to ruin somebody’s year and we struck.”
The late-season return of Johnson, who missed most of the year with a knee injury, had the Lady Rebels playing better basketball. With their point guard on the floor against D-B, the Lady Rebels had all the firepower they needed to advance to the semifinals and ensure a regional tournament berth.
“She’s got the experience under her belt,” Campbell said of Johnson. “She’s able to calm us down and she’s a true leader.”
Campbell also showed some leadership down the stretch by making several key foul shots. After going 1-for-5 from the line to start the game, Campbell went 7-of-9 at the end to help South avoid dropping yet another close contest.
“It was for my team,” Campbell said. “I didn’t want to let them down.
“We’ve come so far and we’ve had so many close games — I didn’t want it to be another one like that.”
Campbell scored 14 points to lead the Lady Rebels (9-17). Blaine Frohlich led D-B (20-8) with 11 points while Tori Head added 10 in her final game as a Lady Indian.
South advanced to face Sullivan Central in the semifinals Friday night. The Lady Cougars used a 9-1 run at the end of the third quarter to pull away and beat David Crockett 58-42 in Tuesday’s nightcap.
The run gave Central a 43-34 lead heading to the fourth and the Lady Cougars kept the pedal to the metal on their way to the victory.
Brittany Fields led Central (20-8) with 19 points while Whitney Moody added 16.
Abby Gladden led Crockett (10-16) with 18. Lauren Murr added 12 despite going scoreless in the second half.
Central coach Gary Surcey said he expects Friday’s game with South to be a toss-up.
“We split in the regular season,” he said. “They’re a tough matchup for us — it will be a good game.”