By Ed Greif
The CCHS Lady Jet basketball team's quest for a Class AAA state championship ended Saturday night in the substate with a 72-39 setback to the top-ranked Blackman Lady Blaze.
The Lady Blaze opened the game with a 14-0 start with 5:30 left in the first quarter, before Region 3AAA MVP Gina Dick's jumper stopped the bleeding, but the Lady Blaze finished the quarter with a 11-7 run for a 25-9 lead by quarter's end.
"The Blackman Lady Blaze were impressive and their athleticism and play definitely reflected their national ranking, their record, and the success. I was proud of our Lady Jets. There was many possessions we held our own and forced them to adjust. We went into that game with one senior, three juniors, six sophomores, and four freshmen. Going into that game we knew exactly what we were dealing with. Coach Will Foster and Coach Blaine Moore had traveled to the regional championship game between Blackman and Oakland and did a great job of breaking down both teams. The abundance of information they returned with, as well as, film we had gathered and other coaches we had talked to reflected what we already knew. Blackman is a top-ranked national team..for a reason.
"The Lady Jets traveled to Murfreesboro two years ago to play Riverdale in the Sectionals and again we knew what we were facing. However, this time was different. We competed with Blackman, we had players who matched up with their future SEC /Division I players, we attacked their pressure and at times we were successful, and I was proud of our effort. I think ultimately the quickness and athleticism of the Blackman Lady Blaze was the difference. The Lady Blaze execute such a quick transition game that we struggled to get all five players back on defense before they attacked the basket, especially in transition. With that said, we took it to them. We were able to attack their pressure, execute and offense, and stop them defensively. The offensive attack of the Blackman Lady Blaze is ignited by the mistakes of their opponents, 75-80 percent of their points comes from the mistakes of their opponents. With that said, the Lady Jets ended the game with 15 turnovers for the game and that is reflective of the strength in our guard play, ability to attack the RAQ, and quickness. We missed some shots early and the quickness of their transition game was definitely a challenge for us. However, we gained so much from playing the #1 nationally ranked Lady Blaze," said Coach Radhika Miller.
Blackman outscored the Lady Jets 17-5 in the second quarter for a 42-14 advantage at the half, holding the Lady Jets to two of 12 from the field with four turnovers. Destiny Carlton had all five points for the Lady Jets.
The Jet faithful saw the top-ranked Lady Blaze outscore CCHS 25-11 in the third quarter for a 67-25 advantage. Carlton had four points for CCHS, who was five of 13 from the field with five turnovers. Klaire Varney had a trey, while Makenzie Iles and Rebekah Teeple each had two points.
With the TSSAA mercy rule in force in the final quarter, CCHS outscored Blackman 14-5 to make the final score 72-39. Iiles had five points for CCHS, who was four of nine from the field with one turnover, while holding the Lady Blaze to one of five with five turnovers.
Hyder, Victoria Lee and Courtney Smith each had two points in the final quarter, while Teeple was one for two from the charity stripe.
As Coaches Radhika Miller and Leslie Eldridge cleared the bench in the final quarter, they made the two hour or so trip to Murfreesboro for the contest.
Leading the Lady Jets were Iles (nine points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals), Dick (four points, two rebounds, one assist), Hyder (six points, one rebound, two steals), Carlton (10 points, two rebounds, one assist, two steals), Lee (two points, one rebound, one assist), Madison McLaughlin (one rebound), Sydney Clark (one rebound), Teeple (three points, three rebounds, one steal), Kelsie Eldridge (three rebounds) and Smith (two points, two rebounds, one steal). Lindsey Norrod, Skylar VanWinkle and Bailey Davis also played.
"The outpouring of support for the Lady Jets and our basketball program has been overwhelming. It means so much to look up in the stands and see our loyal fans cheering and encouraging our Lady Jets. This season has been engraved with success and we are thankful to our fans who have encouraged us and rallied behind us. From our student body at CCHS, to the CCHS faculty and staff, to the parents and families of our team, to the community members who are just proud to be 'Jet fans.' On behalf of the 2013-2014 Lady Jets basketball team and coaching staff I want to say thank you to the best fans ever....BA BAM!," concluded Miller.