GREENEVILLE — The theme for the Region 1-AA girls basketball tournament semifinals Monday evening at Hal Henard Elementary School was simple: survive and advance.
In the end Elizabethton and Grainger were the survivors and will play for the regional championship on Wednesday night.
The Lady Cyclones fought through a tough first quarter and made their way to a 56-42 win over Sullivan South.
The Lady Grizzlies cruised to an 81-48 victory over Sullivan East.
Elizabethton, the third-ranked AA team in the state, opened with frigid 0-for-8 shooting from the field, but the Lady Cyclones recovered enough to come out with an 18-8 first-quarter lead.
The Lady Rebels fought against the Lady Cyclones’ strong pressing defense and played their counterparts close enough to remain within 10 points at the half, 31-21.
It was the third quarter that proved to be South’s death knell. Elizabethton limited the Lady Rebels to just two points in the pivotal period.
The Lady Cyclones also did work from the free throw where they went 26-for-30 to ensure a spot in the regional title game as well as a sectional berth.
“We threw a lot at our girls in the last couple of days and they did it all. They executed and I couldn’t ask for better effort,” said South coach Torey Haile. “They handled the press well, which killed us the last two times against us. It just didn’t fall our way.”
Sarah Robinson and Kayla Marisotes combined for 34 points to lead Elizabethton. Robinson had a game-high 18 and Marisotes followed with 16.
“The plan for tonight was survive and advance,” said Elizabethton coach Len Dugger. “The girls played hard even after stubbing our toe in the first quarter. South did some good things but it was also good to see Robinson back on track.”
Morgan Seymore scored 15 points to lead South. Brayden Hutchins added 11.
Grainger, ranked No. 1 in the state, reached the semifinals with a less-than-impressive 67-54 win over Happy Valley last Friday.
The Lady Grizzlies quickly righted the ship against the Lady Patriots on Monday.
Sharp shooting from Blake Lamb and Celeste Stratton had Grainger up 42-25 at halftime.
The Lady Grizzlies opened the second half on a 10-2 run, and East was unable to recover.
Lamb pumped in a game-high 25 points and Stratton added 21. Allison Hodge chipped in 16 points.
“We tried to talk to the girls about maximizing each possession and taking it one at a time,” said Grainger coach Justin Combs. “We knew that Sullivan East was capable of getting hot and are never out of a game.
“At this point it is survive and advance and we know the challenge is only going to get tougher.”
Jameson Shaffer and Brandy Watkins each scored 14 points to lead the Lady Patriots.
Elizabethton and Grainger have taken turns at the top of the AA rankings this season.
“I think that Wednesday will be a whale of a game. Those are two really good teams that can win the state. You may just be watching a state champion,” said East coach Allan Aubrey.comments powered by Disqus