Tennessee High stops Central short of sectionals, joins M-West in regional final

Pat Kenney • Mar 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The cream has risen to the top.

Big 9 Conference regular-season champion Tennessee High (27-3) will take on top-ranked Morristown West (29-1) in the Region 1-AAA girls basketball finals Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Dobyns-Bennett.

In Monday’s regional semifinals at the Buck Van Huss Dome, the Lady Vikings upended Sullivan Central 61-39 while the Lady Trojans thumped Science Hill 60-31. The winners advance to Saturday’s TSSAA sectional games against teams out of Region 2.

Tennessee High had stubbed its toe in the District 1 semifinals, eventually finishing third while the Lady Cougars captured the tournament title.

On Monday, the Lady Vikings were right in step.

Danielle Montgomery scored early and often, and Tennessee High kept Central’s sharpshooting guards in check until the outcome was already decided.

Montgomery scored nine first-half points in staking Lady Vikings to a 27-16 halftime advantage.

“After what happened in the district tournament, we had something to prove to ourselves,’’ Montgomery said. “We worked hard to not let Central’s shooters have any good looks.’’

Tennessee High’s pressure defense caused havoc within the Lady Cougars’ offense and the Lady Vikings’ work on the boards never allowed Central a second chance.

Tennessee High led 38-23 after three quarters. Only a late burst of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter by Central’s Brittany Fields made the score respectable.

The Lady Cougars (24-9) finished with 17 turnovers and were outrebounded 35-22.

“Sooner or later we knew that someone’s pressure would bother us,’’ said Central coach Gary Surcey. “They got that press of theirs going a couple of times and it was tenacious. The turnovers just hurt us so much.’’

Montgomery finished with 21 points and nine rebounds.

“We tried to be persistent with our pressure tonight,’’ said Tennessee High coach Barry Wade. “And we asked Danielle to take it over. We needed her scoring tonight.

“This win makes us feel better about ourselves after what happened in the district.’’

Fields had 13 points to lead Central. Jacqueline Kestner recorded 11 rebounds.

Morristown West’s defensive pressure had Science Hill struggling to find any open looks on offense. The Lady Hilltoppers turned over the ball eight times in the first half and the Lady Trojans made them pay dearly.

By halftime, M-West was comfortably ahead 27-15.

More importantly, the Lady Trojans had limited Science Hill’s leading scorer Johneshia Good to just four points, all on free throws. She finished with six, hitting her lone basket with 7:20 to go in the contest.

Dominating the boards with a 41-21 advantage and raining down 3-pointers from all corners of the gym, West relentlessly wore the Lady ’Toppers into submission.

The Lady Trojans finished with eight treys as a team.

Taylor Hall had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Trojans while Brittany Watson hit four treys on her way to 12 points. Sidney Goins hauled in 10 boards.

Haley Hensley led Science Hill (17-15) with nine points.

“The bottom line is that we just didn’t shoot the ball well,’’ said Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell. “We had the looks, but they wouldn’t fall.’’

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