KINGSPORT — For nearly four quarters Tuesday night, Sullivan South and Daniel Boone were the main attractions in a less than spectacular tightrope act.
What transpired over the final minute, however, was nothing short of thrilling.
Megan Caldwell scored seven points in the final 1:10, the last two coming as time expired in the Lady Trailblazers’ 42-41 victory in Big 9 Conference play.
“Wow,” Boone coach Tim Campbell said afterward. “That’s been us all season long. We’ve won games at the very end. I trusted the kids just to go out there and play.
“Fortunately that one falls at the end and we win, but that could’ve just as easily gone the other way.”
Caldwell, playing with four fouls for half the fourth period, put the Lady ’Blazers (13-5, 7-3) on her back and rode into the sunset. Her athletic three-point play with 56 seconds left tied the contest at 58. The following two attempts were mirror images of the first, a fearless drive into the paint anticipating contact.
“I knew that I played horrible in the first half,” Caldwell said. “I had four fouls so I knew I had to do something on offense.
“I figured in the last second if I didn’t make it they wouldn’t have time to take another shot.”
She was right.
It was a cruel ending for the Lady Rebels (14-4, 7-3), who appeared to have won it when freshman Makensey Campbell converted a three-point play with only eight seconds remaining.
South coach Josh Tate was understandably upset.
“There’s two parts of my job I hate: cutting girls and having to talk to them after this kind of game,” Tate said. “I’m not very good at either one of them.”
Much of the game saw the Lady Rebels struggle against Boone’s disciplined man-to-man defense. South went scoreless for five minutes in the second period, during which the Lady ’Blazers used an 11-0 surge to take a 15-10 lead.
The Lady Rebels responded well, but continued to struggle on the offensive end. Natalie Pickwell scored a game-high 17 points and Samantha Williams posted 10 — the other six who played combined for just 14.
“They had a good scheme that slowed us down, kept us from driving to the basket,” Tate said. “Even with it being their tempo, we had a chance to win the game.”
Caldwell finished with 15 points for Boone. Holly Nickels scored only four, but collected 10 rebounds.
Picked to finish fifth in the Big 9 prior to the season, Boone now sits second with a sweep of South on its resumÃ©.
“If I was in Vegas I would’ve bet a million-to-one against it,” Campbell joked. “I would’ve lost my shirt.”
In the nightcap, Boone’s boys nearly one-upped their female counterparts — except they left 1.8 seconds on the clock.
Guard Nick Jones converted a difficult shot in the lane, and the Trailblazers escaped with a 54-53 conference win.
A desperation heave from Rebels guard Weston Carr, who scored a game-high 22 points, fell short as time expired.
“We got exactly what we wanted,” Boone coach Ryan Arnold said of the Trailblazers’ final play of the game.
It was a contest that Boone (12-9, 2-8) never seemed in, yet never seemed out of. Blake Moncier led the ’Blazers with 24 points, while Jones added 12.
Dustin Sims collected 10 points for South (8-11, 2-8). Most of Carr’s damage came from long range — he drained six 3-pointers.
“Nothing went right for us tonight, but we were lucky enough to get a win,” Arnold said.