In the Lonesome Pine District girls basketball tournament Tuesday at Pound, the Lady Wildcats rallied from a six-point, fourth-quarter deficit to upend Appalachia 41-36.
The nightcap was a tighter-than-expected battle between J.J. Kelly and Clintwood. Leading by just four with 6:33 left, the Lady Indians pulled away from the Lady Greenwave for a hard-fought 55-37 victory.
Pound (13-10) advanced to take on No. 1 seed J.I. Burton (20-2) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. Kelly (16-7) and No. 2 Powell Valley (10-11) follow at 8.
Pound and Appalachia were never separated by more than four points in the first half. Although the Lady Wildcats committed 12 first-half turnovers, they dominated the boards.
The Lady Bulldogs saw any hope of gaining an advantage lost because of poor free throw shooting. Appalachia was just 4-of-14 on foul shots in the first half.
Early in the third quarter, trailing 22-19, the Lady Bulldogs came to life offensively.
Appalachia senior Brittany Craft drilled a 3-pointer for the tie then swiped an errant pass on the ensuing possession and raced downcourt for an easy layup. Chelsey Boyd followed with a basket and suddenly the Lady Bulldogs were on top 26-22 with 3:33 left in the period.
Appalachia built a 34-26 advantage with six minutes left in the game, but its rash of turnovers spelled doom.
Pound sophomore point guard Samantha Balthis took matters into her hands. She scored eight down the stretch, bolstering a 13-2 run that rallied the Lady Wildcats to the win.
“Mentally we’ve not been a tough team all year,’’ said Appalachia coach Angela Honeycutt. “I think we got a little nervous at the end and lost our concentration.
“My hat is off to Pound. They played hard so they get to play again.’’
With his team down six, Pound coach Wayne Leftwich never stopped believing.
“I told them there was still plenty of time,’’ Leftwich said. “We created some key turnovers that really got us going. Once we got the lead, I told the girls to keep the ball in Samantha’s hands.’’
Balthis finished with 14 points.
Craft was brilliant in defeat, scoring 16 points for Appalachia.
Kelly was sluggish for the first three quarters against the undermanned Lady ’Wave. Despite having more depth and a decided height advantage inside, the Lady Indians could not shake Clintwood.
“We just didn’t start the game ready to play,’’ said Kelly coach Robin Dotson.
The Lady Indians held a 36-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter, when their superior numbers began to take their toll.
With 6-foot-2 freshman Ashley Mullins commanding the boards and scoring at will, Clintwood was forced to foul.
Kelly hit 11 of 16 free throws in the final minutes of the game to finally pull away.
“They just wore us down,’’ said Clintwood coach Donnie Frazier. “Kelly is so big inside we had no way to stop them except to foul.’’
“This is tournament time,’’ Dotson added. “We can’t take anyone for granted.”
Mullins finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Jaydee Brewer added 17 points.
Kelly outrebounded Clintwood 35-13.