A determined Beech team got in the first shots against a Lady Bear team struggling to his its shots as the Lady Buccaneers built a 20-12 lead during the second quarter.
But the Lady Bears battled back with a three-pointer by Shelby Petty putting them ahead for the first time 25-23 2:11 before halftime. After Mia Dean’s 16-footer tied the score, Tondrianna Davis dropped in a three-point bomb to put Mt. Juliet up 28-25 at halftime.
The Lady Bears led 40-29 late in the third quarter before Beech reeled off seven straight to get back in the game. A putback by the quick Shiya Hoosier put the Lady Bucs back in the lead 45-44 with 2;40 to play.
A triple by Petty swung the lead back to Mt. Juliet 47-45 with just over a minute left. Dean drained a trey at :42 to put Beech back up 48-47.
Mt. Juliet missed a pair of front ends of one-and-ones. But Petty found Palmer on a 2-on-1 with seven seconds left for the Lady Bear lead. Beech didn’t take a timeout, electing to continue play with Kennedy Powell missing a runner at the buzzer to send MJ to two more games.
“We were fortunate,” Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. “There were some times we played pretty well, too.
“We shot too many threes early on in the game. We were rushing our shots, and that happens at tournament time. Once we settled in and evened the score back up and even had a little lead at halftime, not playing some of our best basketball…
When you get in tournament play, it’s survive and advance and there are people who are desperate to get a win. Petty’s three was a big bucket there late and Emma’s shot to finish off. Two good plays (by Petty) that led to us getting a win.”
The Lady Bears, who normally win in more methodical fashion, will face Lebanon with a 22-8 record while the gritty Lady Bucs went down swinging at 24-9.
Palmer led the Lady Bears with 17 points and 12 rebounds while point guard Nevaeh Majors had 12 on short pullup jumpers in the lane to go with five assists. Petty poured in three triples for her nine points while Davis drained two threes for her six and Ryleigh Osborne five.
J.C. Swafford led the Lady Buccaneers with 14 points while Powell and Hoosier each adding 11. Lebanon and Central battled to a low-scoring 15-15 halftime draw before the Devilettes scored the first 13 points of the second half to take command and advance to the championship game with a 22-12 record.
For Lebanon, on a night of defense, former Lady Wildcat Lindsey Freeman did the most offensive damage with 16 points, including six during the third period. Maleigha Oldham and Allissa Mulaski each scored six, Christaney Brookshire five, Addie Grace Porter four and Aaryn Grace Lester three.
Nicole Brill led the Lady Wildcats with seven points while Sydnee Richetto and senior Taylor Tucker each finished with five, senior Julia Maki four and Jasmin Angel and senior Kenadhi Killebrew three apiece as Central slipped to a final 20-12 mark.
Brill’s putback broke a 2-2 tie and ultimately lifted the Lady Wildcats to a 4-2 first-quarter lead.
Freeman drove the lane in the final minute of a back-and-forth second quarter for the halftime tie.
By Andy Reed