The third time was the charm for the Brainerd girls, but the same wasn't true for the Brainerd boys.
The second-seeded Lady Panthers beat top-seeded Central in the girls' championship game of the District 6-AA tournament being played at Howard's Henry Bowles Gymnasium Tuesday night after losing to the Lady Pounders twice during the regular season.
It was the same song, third verse for the second-seeded Brainerd boys, who lost to top-seed Tyner by double digits for the third time in the boys' title game.
Tyner's boys improved to 21-3 with its ninth straight win, a 57-47 victory over the Panthers. Brainerd's girls improved to 18-7 with their 56-42 win over Central.
Hixson's girls and the East Ridge boys were victorious in the consolation games with Hixson escaping Tyner by a 53-51 margin and the Pioneers outlasting Central by a 64-57 final.
All four teams in the championship games will host Region quarterfinal games this weekend with the girls playing on Friday and the boys on Saturday. Those four teams in the consolation games will all be on the road.
Brainerd's girls will host Polk County while Central will be at home to face Sequoyah. Hixson travels to Loudon while Tyner will journey to Engelwood to face McMinn Central.
Saturday's matchups include Polk County at Tyner and Loudon at Brainerd. East Ridge visits Sequoyah while Central will be at McMinn Central.
TYNER BOYS 57, BRAINERD 47: It's always a hard-fought battle when these two teams play and Tuesday night's game was certainly no exception.
It was extremely physical for the entire game and defense dominated more than offense for both teams, but it was a situation at the start of the fourth quarter that ultimately determined the outcome.
Brainerd only scored four points in the third quarter, but the game was surprisingly still tied at 27-all following a jumper from the wing from the Panthers' Ledarius Lee with 2:31 in the third.
Tyner then scored the next eight points for a 35-27 lead and the Rams appeared to be taking control of the game, especially after Brainerd's big man in the middle Orlando Moore picked up his fourth foul with 3:16 to play in the third.
Tyner's Alex Watkins, the Rams' force on the inside, scored on a nice inside move with 7:33 to play and was fouled. Brainerd's Tyree Stubbs reacted in a negative way and was assessed a technical foul. Before the issue was settled, Stubbs picked up his second technical and was ejected from the game.
Watkins made his free throw while teammate DeVante Jones calmly sank all four tosses from the two technical. Tyner added a couple of more buckets before Moore sank two charity tosses with 6:41 to play, but that 19-0 run was more than enough to propel the Rams to their 21st win of the season.
Brainerd outscored Tyner by an 18-11 margin the rest of the way, but the hole was simply too big for the Panthers to escape.
"That was a rough road we had to take, beating Brainerd for the third straight time this year," said Tyner coach Gerald Harris.
"Neither team shot the ball very well, but somehow we prevailed. That first half was our worst offensively since the trip to Memphis back in December, but we played pretty good defense.
"Alex Watkins and Kevin Cameron both played hard and I thought Sadik Spence did a good job of getting other people involved. But for us to go undefeated during the regular season and to win this tournament says a lot about these guys. Now we get to host a game on Saturday night," Harris nodded, thinking that it will probably be Polk County.
Brainerd coach Levar Brown certainly didn't question the effort his team displayed, but he felt like the physical play was a key.
"It was rough out there, but I thought the double technical was the turning point and dictated the outcome of the game. We played hard and we never quit, but that play to start the fourth quarter was the difference in the game," he said matter of factly.
"We look forward to hosting a region game on Saturday, but we just hope we get to play Tyner again," Brown concluded.
Jones and Cameron both scored 13 points to lead the Tyner offense while Spence followed with nine after scorching the nets for 28 during Monday's semifinal win over Central.
Da'v Moore topped Brainerd with nine points and he also grabbed six rebounds as the Panthers won the battle of the boards by a 25-23 margin. Marquis Tipton and Moore were next with eight points apiece while Windell Graham had seven off the bench.
BRAINERD GIRLS 56, CENTRAL 42: These two teams had a couple of intense battles during the regular season with the Lady Pounders winning both times.
It was Brainerd's turn to celebrate on Tuesday night.
Alexus Mitchell scored on a putback and Shamiya Jones canned a 3 to start the game at Central bolted to a 5-0 lead in the first 90 seconds. Mitchell's two charity tosses at the 4:59 mark of the first quarter gave the Lady Pounders an 8-3 lead, but that's when sophomore Jamee Ward took over.
Jameka Brown scored on a layup to make it 8-5 before Ward scored the next 11 points as Brainerd had the upper hand at the first break by a 16-8 margin.
Mitchell and Sandrea Sylman combined to score seven straight for Central to open the second quarter, but Ward scored on a drive along the wing as Brainerd took a 22-20 lead into the dressing room at intermission.
Madison Rogers, who was celebrating her 17th birthday on Tuesday, bagged a 3 from corner to start the second half as Central regained the lead at 23-22, but Brainerd then scored 11 straight and never trailed again.
"Intensity was the key for us as our girls just wanted it a little more," said Brainerd coach Tyrus Ward after his girls had improved to 18-7.
"Jamee did her thing and we played great defense. We also had a big edge in rebounding and that was another key, but it was an overall team effort.
"Ebony Calloway had a bunch of rebounds and played a big role, but we'll celebrate this win for a few minutes before we start getting ready for our next game. But right now, I feel great," the coach nodded.
"We were a little tight at the start, but we got outrebounded by a bunch and it's hard to compete when the other team has more possessions," said Central coach Rick May after his team had fallen to 17-6 overall.
"Brainerd did a good job of slowing it down. I thought that we responded in a positive way and came back, but we were just never able to completely get over the hump. We still get to play at home on Friday and that's a big deal," May added.
Ward was the sparkplug for Brainerd's offense as she topped everyone with 29 points. Calloway followed with 13 points, many on putbacks, as she finished as the leading rebounder for the Lady Panthers with 10.
Jameka Brown added eight for the winners.
Sylman was the leader for Central with 11 points while Mitchell was next with nine and Jones with eight.
Brainerd had a whopping 32-13 edge on the boards. While Calloway dominated with 10, Brown and Ward followed with eight and six rebounds, respectively. Mitchell topped Central with five.
HIXSON GIRLS 53, TYNER 51: The Lady Rams played their hearts out, but they just couldn't hang on as Hixson rallied from a 22-19 halftime deficit to win by two.
T.T. Staton was tops for the Lady Wildcats with 24 points while Ciera Taylor added 13. Porchia Turner had 15 before fouling out late to lead Tyner while teammate Jai'Mesia Parks was also in double figures with 14.
EAST RIDGE BOYS 64, CENTRAL 57: The Pioneers built a 55-43 lead through three quarters before withstanding a Purple Pounder rally in the fourth to prevail by seven.
Kolbe King scored 15 points -- all from long range -- to lead East Ridge while teammate Keion Jones was next with 14. Cordarius Talley and Eddie Hitchcock both finished with nine points.
Rodney Benford was tops for Central with 12 points. Terron Hayes was next with nine while Tre Tiller had eight and Terry Tiller seven.
GIRLS ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Brainerd -- Jamee Ward, Jameka Brown, Ebony Calloway;
Central -- Sandrea Sylman, Shamiya Jones, Alexus Mitchell;
Hixson -- Ciera Taylor, T.T. Staton;
Tyner -- Porchia Turner, Jai'Mesia Parks.
BRAINERD 16 6 17 17 -- 56
CENTRAL 8 12 11 11 -- 42
BRAINERD (56) -- Ward 29, Brown 8, Walker 3, Price 2, Ashley 1, Spears, Calloway 13, Young, Williams.
CENTRAL (42) -- S. Jones 8, Ransom, Rogers 6, Davis, Sylman 11, Mitchell 9, Hixson, Grampp 3, Feist, N. Jones, Hill 5, Miller.
3-POINT GOALS: Brainerd 7 (Ward 5, Brown 2); Central 5 (S. Jones 2, Rogers 2, Grampp).
TYNER 5 17 14 15 -- 51
HIXSON 8 11 18 16 -- 53
TYNER (51) -- Benford, Parks 14, McLemore 7, Conyers 7, Wilkes 4, Smith 4, Montgomery, Rodgers, Turner 15.
HIXSON (53) -- Yates, Taylor 13, Staton 24, Rivers 6, Stanfield 8, Johnson 2, Jett.
3-POINT GOALS: Tyner 2 (Parks 2); Hixson 4 (Taylor 2, Stanfield 2).
BOYS ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Tyner -- Sadik Spence, Alex Watkins, Kevin Cameron;
Brainerd -- Marquis Tipton, Tyree Stubbs, Orlando Moore;
East Ridge -- Kolbe King, Cordarius Talley;
Central -- Rodney Benford, Jamichael Poole.
BRAINERD 11 12 4 20 -- 47
TYNER 11 12 3 22 -- 57
BRAINERD (47) -- Stewart 3, Shropshire, Tipton 8, Evans 1, Otis, Graham 7, Stubbs 6, Moore 8, Lee 5, Moore 9.
TYNER (57) -- Watson 4, Spence 9, Mastin 7, Jones 13, Hardwick 4, Cameron 13, Strickland, Bonds, Wilson, Watkins 7.
3-POINT GOALS: Brainerd 5 (Stewart, Tipton 2, Graham, Lee); Tyner 2 (Spence, Mastin).
CENTRAL 10 21 12 14 -- 57
EAST RIDGE 17 19 19 9 -- 64
CENTRAL (57) -- Montgomery 3, Tr. Tiller 8, Billingsley 6, Hayes 9, Te. Tiller 7, Stewart 3, Benford 12, Swafford, Poole 6, Johnson 3, Long.
EAST RIDGE (64) -- King 15, Tillery 4, Talley 9, Jones, Hitchcock 9, Jones 14, Blair 13.
3-POINT GOALS: Central 10 (Tr. Tiller, Hayes 3, Te. Tiller, Benford 2, Poole 2, Johnson); East Ridge 6 (King 5, Hitchcock).
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)