Ward Leads Brainerd Girls Past Polk Co.

Sophomore Sharp-Shooter Gets 26 In 45-33 Win

Friday, February 21, 2014 - by John Hunt

Brainerd's Lady Panthers didn't play their best game on Friday night at their Jackson-High Gymnasium, but they played well enough to advance to Monday's Region 3-AA semifinals at East Ridge.

The final result on Friday was a 45-33 victory over the Polk County Wildkittens, but the first half was much more impressive than the second for the Lady Panthers, who improved to 19-7 with the double-digit win.

Monday night's pairings for the girls semis include McMinn Central against Sequoyah at 6 and Brainerd against Loudon at 7:30. 

McMinn Central whipped Tyner by a 63-18 final while Sequoyah ended Central's season, 47-21.  And in the closest quarterfinal in the region, Loudon slipped past Hixson, 55-53.

"We wanted to play with great intensity where we wore them out running up and down the court, but we got a little sluggish in the second half," said Brainerd coach Tyrus Ward following the victory.

"Anytime you get a win in the first round of the region tournament, you have to be pleased, but we'll have to play better next time.  We've had a long week and several of these girls may have been tired, but we played well in spots and defensively, we did okay.

"Polk missed a lot of shots, but we just wanted to wear them down and let little sister take over," Ward said, referring to his younger sister Jamee, a Brainerd sophomore who led the way with 26 points, despite not having her best shooting night of the season.

Hannah Withrow scored on a putback and teammate Heather McLain converted a layup 24 seconds later as Polk County grabbed the early 4-0 lead.

Ward scored five straight points and Ebony Calloway converted a steal into a layup as the Lady Panthers took the 7-4 advantage at the 4:36 mark.

Ward sank another 3 around a pair of buckets by Polk's Mikayla McClary as the Wildkittens got to within 10-8 with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter.

By the time Polk scored again -- a 3 from the key by Isabella Liner with 3:26 to play before intermission -- the game was all but over as Brainerd scored 15 unanswered points.  Ward was the biggest weapon for the Lady Panthers as she scored eight of those 15 points.

Ward's final 3 of the game came with 11 seconds to play as Brainerd's lead at the break was a commanding 30-13.

With Ward scoring eight of Brainerd's first 10 points in the second half, the Lady Panthers had their biggest lead of the game at 40-18 with 1:45 to play in the third stanza.

The Wildkittens kept battling and started to hit some shots from the field, but the deficit was too big and the time too short to pull off the comeback.

Polk County coach Johnny Hayes pointed toward his team's slow start in the opening minutes as one of the keys to their loss.

"We just didn't come out ready to play in the first quarter.  We had too many turnovers and we missed too many open shots.  All of a sudden, the game was out of reach," the slender coach explained afterward.

"I was glad that we came out and played with energy in the second half, but it was too late after the way we played in the first.  We had a few nice runs, but we were basically just matching them point for point.

"We all knew how tough the Ward girl is as she has great moves and is extremely athletic.  She was our biggest challenge, but they had some other girls who stepped up and made some shots," Hayes added.

While Ward was tops for both teams with her 26 points, teammate Jameka Brown followed with nine points while Neisha Price added seven.

Liner was tops for Polk County with 10 points.  McLain was next with nine while McClary had eight and Withrow six.

Polk County, ending its season at 10-18, did enjoy a 29-23 advantage on the boards as Withrow snagged a dozen for the Wildkittens.  Calloway was tops for Brainerd with seven.

In other 6-AA games, McMinn Central topped Tyner 63-18 and Sequoyah beat Central 47-21.

Loudon edged the Hixson girls 55-53.

POLK COUNTY  8  5  7  13  --  33

BRAINERD   13  17  10  5  --  45

POLK COUNTY (33) -- Liner 10, Davis, Johnson, Waldroup, McLain 9, McClary 8, Trew, Muller, Withrow 6.

BRAINERD  (45) -- Ward 26, Brown 9, Walker 1, Price 7, Ashley, McClendon, Sparks, Calloway 2.

3-POINT GOALS: Polk Co. 2 (Liner 2); Brainerd 6 (Ward 4, Brown, Price).

MONDAY'S SEMIFINALS AT EAST RIDGE

McMinn Central vs Central 6 p.m.

Brainerd vs Loudon 7:30 p.m.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)


Randy Smith: Honoring Terry Cordell

About a year ago, members of the Chattanooga TSSAA Umpires Association voted to honor two schools in the area we serve with the Terry Cordell Memorial Sportsmanship Award; one for baseball and one for softball, named for the long-time assigner of games in the area. The 2017 winners will be announced soon, but today I wanted to let everyone know about the man the award ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Ooltewah Tags East Hamilton With Loss, 6-2

Valerie Bray To Serve Workhouse Time For Traffic Death Of Runner Cameron Bean

Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz on Thursday ordered that Valerie Bray serve 11 months and 29 days in the workhouse for the   Sept. 19, 2015, traffic death of runner Cameron Bean at Moccasin Bend. She was given concurrent two-year sentences for criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. Judge Greenholtz allowed her time to make arrangements ... (click for more)

Patten Towers Resident Charged In Wreck That Clogged U.S. 27 On Sunday

A Patten Towers resident is charged in a wreck that clogged the northbound lanes of U.S. 27 on Sunday. Melanie Evette Dobbs, 56, was charged with four counts of reckless endangerment, DUI, failure to maintain lane, violating the Implied Consent Law and failing to have insurance. Police responded to a collision at 9:45 p.m. in which a Dodge Caravan had struck a Kia sedan that ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Knoxville’s Godsend

Back when we were uppity teenagers, the best put-down when a friend started acting crazy was to say to the heathen, “Quit acting like you are from Knoxville!” I don’t know how the term originated but I can say that back in the day it was pretty insulting to be told you were acting like you were from Knoxville. This week I wish that more of us acted like Knoxville. The Knox County ... (click for more)