Coach Laura Cottrell wasn't feeling real positive about her team's chances when the Chattanooga Christian Lady Chargers trailed CSAS by 20 points early in the second half, but she wasn't about to let her girls know she was feeling that way.
Cottrell kept dwelling on positives and it made a difference as her Lady Chargers rallied for a 58-50 overtime victory over the Lady Patriots in the first game of the day at Chattanooga State in the annual Best of Preps basketball tournament.
That first game also turned out to be one of the best.
Baylor had a nice comeback as well in a 44-42 victory over East Hamilton while Cleveland and GPS were both easy winners. Cleveland outlasted Silverdale by a 56-40 final while the Bruisers slipped past Brainerd by a 53-33 final.
The tournament continues on Friday with consolation games early and semifinals later in the day.
CSAS meets East Hamilton in the first consolation game at 10 a.m. while Silverdale and Brainerd square off at 1 p.m. Chattanooga Christian and Baylor meet in the first semifinal at 4 while Cleveland and GPS play at 7 in a rematch from last year's championship game.
The boys' schedule for Friday includes Red Bank vs. the Chattanooga Patriots in one consolation game at 11:30 while Boyd-Buchanan challenges North Jackson in the second consolation game at 2:30. Championship semifinals include Notre Dame vs. Baylor at 5:30 and McCallie-Ooltewah at 8:30.
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN 58, ARTS & SCIENCES 50: The Lady Patriots had a 20-14 lead at the half, but scored 14 straight points to open the second half as the difference was 34-14 with 3:34 to play in the third quarter.
Things didn't look too good for the Lady Chargers at that point.
But, oh, how things can change.
The Lady Chargers went on an 11-2 run to trail by only 36-25 when the quarter ended and an 18-4 run in the first five minutes of the fourth totally shifted the momentum to the Lady Chargers' side.
Hannah Henry, who led CCS with 22 points, scored on a layup with 4:25 left in regulation to give her team its first lead of the game at 41-40.
Christianna Smith scored on a putback with 22 seconds left to knot the score at 46 before the game went into overtime.
Brooke Mitchell scored on a nice inside move to start the extra period as CSAS regained the lead at 48-46, but CCS got two layups from Joanna Smith and one each from Amanda Loyal and Henry for a 54-48 lead with 2:05 to play.
Keturah Billen sank two free throws to make it 54-50 with 1:29 to play, but Henry added two more layups in the final 90 seconds as the Lady Chargers won going away.
"I wasn't sure we'd be able to come back from such a big deficit, but I wasn't about to tell them," Cottrell said with a smile after her girls evened their record at 6-6.
"I knew they were capable, but they are the ones who had to believe it. Things started clicking after a few steals and some layups. We didn't shoot very well in the first half, but we played a lot better in the second," Cottrell added.
CSAS coach Lee Ziegler felt like his team faltered under Chattanooga Christian's pressure.
"We lost our point guard to foul trouble and didn't make very good decisions with the basketball after that. We didn't handle the pressure very well," he added.
Henry had 22 points to lead the Lady Chargers while Smith was next with 20.
Mitchell was tops for CSAS with 17 while Samantha Maffett was next with 10.
Chattanooga Christian 8 6 11 21 12 -- 58
Arts & Sciences 10 10 16 10 4 -- 50
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN (58) -- Hughes, Delashmitt 4, Sabourin 2, Davis 4, Loyal 2, Henry 22, Balch 2, Smith 20, Click 2.
ARTS & SCIENCES (50) -- Little 1, K. Billen 4, McElvain 2, Mitchell 17, Maffett 10, Benn, Montgomery 4, R. Billen 6, Smith 6.
3-Point Goals: None for either team.
BAYLOR 44, EAST HAMILTON 42: The Lady Hurricanes had a 21-18 halftime lead before extending it to 34-26 after three periods.
Baylor went on a 14-4 run in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and tied the score at 40-40 when freshman Kaleigh Clemons nailed a 3 from the wing.
Jazmine Simpkins gave the Lady Red Raiders a 42-40 lead with a layup at the 1:37 mark, but East Hamilton used free throws by Jessica Caudle and Juliette Harp to tie things up at 42 with 22 seconds remaining.
Baylor waited patiently for the last shot and it was Simpkins who drew the foul on an inside move with 1.7 seconds remaining.
She nailed both free throws for the winning margin as Clemons intercepted the inbounds pass to secure the win.
"The biggest thing was we didn't quit," said Baylor coach John Gibson, his team now 5-7 overall.
"We don't know how to finish yet, but we did what we had to do to win this basketball game. This is a nice tournament, but it's all about getting better in the next month. I thought we played well in spurts, but the key was our man-to-man pressure defense," Gibson added.
East Hamilton coach Derek Morris was less than happy when the final horn sounded.
"I don't think you want to know what I'm thinking right now, but we showed our youth in that game as we had a lot of stupid turnovers. We let Baylor's pressure get to us as we let them dictate the tempo of the game.
"They did a good job of pressuring the ball and they made less mistakes than we did," Morris added.
Clemons finished with 19 points to lead Baylor while Simpkins was next with 12. Marci Carter hit some key buckets along the way and finished with nine points.
Caudle and Harp were the leaders for the Lady Hurricanes with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
East Hamilton 12 9 13 8 -- 42
Baylor 4 14 8 18 -- 44
EAST HAMILTON (42) -- J. Caudle 17, Petitt, Harp 12, Woods, K. Caudle 2, McCullom 4, Zackery 7, Moon, Giles.
BAYLOR (44) -- Clemons 19, Carter 9, Simpkins 12, Kaufman, Hubert, Birdsong 2, Smith, Huckabay, Popp 2.
3-POINT GOALS: East Hamilton 5 (J. Caudle 4, Zackery); Baylor 3 (Clemons 2, Carter).
CLEVELAND 56, SILVERDALE 40: Silverdale's Haley Redmond scored the first bucket of the game, but Cleveland scored the next nine points and had a 12-6 lead when the first quarter ended.
The difference was 30-23 at the half and 40-31 when the third quarter ended.
Mariah Massengill scored four points to start the final period as Silverdale got to within 40-35, but that's when Sydnie Anderson completely took over the game.
Scoring 12 of her game-high 25 points in the next five minutes, the Lady Blue Raiders were finally able to put a little distance between themselves and the upset-minded Lady Seahawks.
The difference was 16 points at the end, but it was that 16-5 run in the final 6:35 that made it look so lopsided.
"It was an ugly basketball game. We've had six days off and it showed," said Cleveland coach Mindy Kiser after her team had improved to 8-3.
"Our shots didn't fall early, but I'm pleased with the effort. We have one down and two more to go. These girls have had their eyes on this tournament since we lost to GPS in the finals last year.
"Our main concern is defense and I thought it was pretty decent at times," Kiser added.
Silverdale coach David Massengill was upbeat and pleased afterward, despite the double-digit defeat.
"I thought we held our ground for a long time, but Cleveland was just a little bit more athletic than we were," he said while eating a sandwich in the hospitality room a little later.
"We had a chance and I think the game was a lot closer than the final score might indicate. Cleveland did a good job taking advantage of our mismatches, but playing in a tournament like this will only help us when we start our district play," he added.
Senior Sydnie Anderson had 25 points to lead Cleveland while freshman Shawnia Anderson was next with 11.
Massengill had 20 points to lead Silverdale while Sloane Woodard was next with 13.
Silverdale 6 17 8 9 -- 40
Cleveland 12 18 10 16 -- 56
SILVERDALE (40) -- Alosi 2, Massengill 20, Lewis, Woodard 13, Smith, Redmond 2, Skelton 3.
CLEVELAND (56) -- Berry 3, Scoggins 6, A. Abdullah-Muhammad 3, Q. Abdullah-Muhammad 4, Sy. Anderson 25, Sh. Anderson 11, Capron 2, McClendon 2.
3-POINT GOALS: Silverdale 5 (Massengill 2, Woodard 3); Cleveland 5 (Berry, Scoggins 2, Sy. Anderson 2)
GPS 53, BRAINERD 33: The Bruisers are the defending tournament champions and the two-time defending D-II state champs. They lost a lot of offensive production from a year ago, but they're still capable of scoring when the opportunity presents itself.
Brainerd always has an outstanding team. There's no question the Lady Panthers will be a force before all is said and done, but with more than their share of injured players, it was more a matter of survival than winning about winning in a situation like this.
The Bruisers fell behind 5-0 early, but Brianna Farris scored six of the next eight points for GPS and they never trailed again.
The difference was 18-9 when the quarter ended and 33-19 at intermission.
The lead had stretched to 45-26 when the fourth quarter ended as coach Susan Crownover was able to play everyone on the GPS bench.
"I'm always happy with a win," Crownover said after her team improved to 7-3 with the 20-point victory.
"I thought we played decent. We haven't played a game in two weeks and I think that was a blessing in disguise as at least eight of our players have been sick with the flu.
"I thought Akia Harris did a nice job of getting the ball in the right people's hands and the younger kids on the bench were able to come in and give us a nice spark. Overall, I'm pleased," the veteran GPS coach added.
Brainerd coach Carolyn Jackson is more concerned about her players getting healthy than anything else.
"Things didn't start off very good for us, but I wasn't expecting a whole lot with so many injured players. I used more timeouts than normal just to make sure they were okay, but I'm not upset with the score.
"We played GPS at the Bradley tournament a few weeks ago and lost then too, but it was a much closer game then. We have a young team, but if we can just get everyone healthy again, we should do just fine," Jackson added.
Harris was tops for the Bruisers with 17 points while Farris was next with 13.
Anisha Douglas was tops for Brainerd with 14 points.
Jasmine Woods was next with seven while Jamee Ward, Jamila Rowland and Terenicia Ashley all finished with four points apiece.
Girls Preparatory School 18 15 12 8 -- 53
Brainerd 9 10 7 7 -- 33
GPS (53) -- Ca. Key 2, Ch. Key, Spears, Morgan 2, Sharrock 4, Crownover 3, Stamey 2, Shutters 4, Pitts, Harris 17, Farris 13, Jackson 4, Williams 2, Ware.
BRAINERD (33) -- Woods 7, Douglas 14, Ward 4, Walker 2, Rowland 4, Robinson, McClendon, Ellis, Ashley 4.
3-POINT GOALS: GPS 2 (Crownover, Farris); Brainerd 2 (Woods, Douglas)
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)