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)


Brave Beat Mets Friday, 6-0.

NEW YORK -- Only a high pitch count prevented Aaron Harang from bidding for history on Friday night at Citi Field. But after he'd delivered seven hitless innings, the Braves preserved his gem with a late-inning eruption that allowed them to cruise to a 6-0 win over the Mets. David Wright's two-out single in the eighth inning ended the Braves' bid to notch the first combined ... (click for more)

Jacksonville Shuts Out Lookouts, 6-0.

The Chattanooga Lookouts could not overcome an early four-run deficit and ended up dropping the final game of the team's five game series against the Jacksonville Suns, 6-0, in front of 4,685 fans at AT&T Field on Star Wars Night.      With one out in the first inning the Suns loaded the bases and scored first on a RBI single by Alfredo Silverio.  The ... (click for more)

Bus Driver Will Not Face Charges In Tragic Bus Accident

Sergeant Tommy Sturdivan announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that the investigation into the death of six-year-old Zackery Bryant at Chattanooga Valley Elementary has been officially declared complete and that there will be no criminal charges. Zackery died tragically on Monday morning after being hit by a school bus after stepping off. According to Sgt. Sturdivan, ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy May Begin Effort To Allow Wine In Grocery Stores; Concussion Forms Required For Sporting Events; WWTA Chided For Causing Potholes

The Soddy Daisy Commission is considering taking steps to allow wine in grocery stores now that Tennessee lawmakers have voted to lift restrictions. To have the law appear on the next ballot for a vote, Mayor Janice Cagle said a petition with an amount of signatures totaling 10 percent of the number of voters in the last general election will have to be collected. Commissioner ... (click for more)

State Moving Forward In Educational Improvements

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education released the following statement from President and CEO Jamie Woodson regarding the 2014 legislative session in Tennessee and HB1549/SB1835, which passed the General Assembly Thursday: After a year of extensive public and legislative conversation regarding higher academic standards and related strategies to improve student learning, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Nudge By Angel Kilbride

Way above us, high in the heavens, a handsome angel everybody calls Ben yelled to Saint Peter on Thursday and told him, “Better send me a couple of rubies and maybe an amethyst … Dad’s crown just got bigger.” To you such a scenario may sound silly and foolish but Bill Kilbride, a dynamic genius who has just been named as president-elect of Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce, knows ... (click for more)