DANDRIDGE — A classic contrast in styles took center stage in Friday night’s Region 1-AAA girls basketball opening-round contest at Jefferson County. The hosts’ exceptional guard play proved to be a decisive winner.
Dobyns-Bennett fell victim to a quick, and lethal, backcourt in a 64-53 defeat. Lacy Miller and Haley Nelson combined for 48 of the Lady Patriots’ points.
“Backcourt is their strength,” Lady Tribe coach Roger France said. “That’s our weakness. We’re not a team that presses and runs.
“Their backcourt controlled us and the game.”
A senior, Nelson finished with 32 points. Nineteen of those came in a tightrope first half that ended with the teams tied at 31.
Nelson — effective in the paint and from the perimeter — scored nine of Jefferson County’s final 11 points. She knocked down 7 of 8 free throws over the final 2½ minutes to seal the Patriots’ first regional win in their three years under coach Bryan Lewis.
“It was a big night,” Nelson said. “Not only did we hit our shots, but we also played great on defense.
“We knew we were quicker than them. We knew if we ran the floor we had a chance.”
“Haley is something special,” Lewis said. “I wish she was a junior. She’s our general. We go as she goes.”
That may be so, but the contribution of Miller on Friday was just as vital. Successive 3-point goals from the junior bookended a 9-0 run midway through the third period that turned a six-point deficit into a three-point lead.
That lead grew to as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter. Miller, meanwhile, closed with 16 points for the Lady Pats (20-9).
“I felt like the momentum finally shifted when we figured out something against their (2-3) zone,” Lewis said. “We found something with ball reversal.
“Lacy was dead-on in the shootaround. She had a lot of energy about her. We got good ball reversal, and got her open. Those two 3s she hit (in the third period), I thought that was the turning point.”
D-B (20-9), not one to go quietly, managed to cut the lead to three points with 55 seconds left. However, it could have been even better.
Over the final two minutes, the Indians committed three turnovers, including a 10-second call, and gave up a key offensive rebound.
“I didn’t think we played well,” France said. “I didn’t think we went inside as much as we should have in the second half.
“We also had some unforced turnovers in some key situations. Nobody’s fault but our own.”
The first half featured a steady dose of Megan Devine for the Indians. The senior scored 18 of her team-high 27 points in the opening 16 minutes.
Junior Juli Osborne picked up her play after the break and finished with 15 points. D-B had only four players score.
Jefferson County committed just two turnovers, both coming in the first half. That’s 16 minutes of error-free basketball.
The Patriots advanced to meet Tennessee High in the Region 1 semifinals on Monday.
“This year’s group was really motivated to not only get to this point but also to advance,” Lewis said. “They don’t want to stop here, either.”