Remember the saying "offense wins games, defense wins championships?" That statement held true for the CCHS Lady Jets Monday night as they defeated the White County Warriorettes 49-44 to earn a spot in tonight's Region 3AAA championship game and a berth in the Class AAA substate Saturday night against either Riverdale or Lawrence County.
The Lady Jets (20-14) will play Bradley Central (31-1) tonight in the championship game, while Riverdale challenges Lawrence County in the Region 4AAA title contest in Shelbyville. The winners host the runners-up on Saturday in the substate.
Bradley Central beat Coffee County 56-39 in Monday's first game. In the Region 4AAA semifinals at Shelbyville, Riverdale defeated Franklin County 70-27 and Lawrence County edged Oakland 53-47.
"Our defensive pressure tonight was huge. This was one of the best defensive efforts I've seen. We came out with a quick start in the first half," said Coach Radhika Miller, whose team will be making its first trip to the substate since the 2008-'09 season.
"The third quarter wasn't our best quarter. We still played tough and kept it close. In the fourth quarter, we relied on our ability to handle the basketball. We made our free throws to carry us through. The team that works the hardest never surrenders," Miller added.
Leading the Lady Jets were Taylor Vaden (23 points, six rebounds, three steals), followed by Gina Dick (one rebound), Brandi Green (four rebounds, two assists, one steal), Sloane VanWinkle (five points, one rebound), Lauren Sliger (eight points, two rebounds), Rebekah Teeple (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal), Tori Noel (two points, one rebound) and Jaclyn Reagan (three points, two rebounds, four assists).
Amber Hudgens led the Warriorettes with 13 points, while Allyson Quillen added 12 markers.
The Lady Jets started out with a bang, taking a 15-4 first-quarter lead, hitting six of 13 from the field with two turnovers. Teeple led the Lady Jets with six points and helped control the boards.
White County was only one of five from the floor, with seven turnovers.
CCHS let their guard down a little in the second quarter, as the Warriorettes outscored CCHS 12-7 to slice the lead to 22-16 at the break. CCHS cooled from the floor, hitting four of 12 with three turnovers, while White County was four of eight with five turnovers.
The Lady Jets stretched the lead to 28-21 early in the third quarter, but a Warriorette 9-0 run sparked a 10-2 spurt to take a 31-30 lead with 2:06 remaining in the stanza.
CCHS finished the quarter with a 7-0 run, capped by a Sliger trey, to take a 37-31 lead, which they relinquished. The Lady Jets were four of 13 from the field and six of six from the charity stripe, while the Warriorettes were five of 11 from the field and three of four from the free throw line.
Vaden, who was District 6AAA Player of the Year, tallied seven fourth-quarter points for the Lady Jets, who were outscored in the final quarter 13-12. Sliger had three points, and Teeple chipped in two markers.
CCHS was two of five from the field and eight of 11 from the charity stripe, while White County was four of 17 from the floor and five of six from the free throw line.
As the seconds ticked off the clock, the CCHS faithful gave them a standing ovation as they left the court.