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)


Dawsonville's McIntosh Wins At Boyd's Speedway

New team; new winner... Saturday night Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Ga., (home of NASCAR's Chase & Bill Elliott) sped into the lead at Boyd's Speedway and held off "The Georgia Giant" Shane Clanton to win the Turkey Gobble 50. Thirty one race teams attempted to make the race, but it was all the Blount Motorsports driver in the #7 "Massey Electric, Cherokee Millwright, ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Tennessee Falls To Missouri

Grote Hall At UTC Campus Closed Due To Sinkhole

A sinkhole has prompted UTC officials to close off access to Grote Hall. Grote Hall employees have been told they do not need to report to work on Monday. Classes that are held in Grote Hall are called off for Monday. All other classes and campus activities are on for Monday. (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting; Victim Dies

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road. The sheriff's office said Sunday night that the victim had died. The victim's name has not yet been released.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim ... (click for more)

Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Tubman Goat-Roping

Every spring there comes a bright day on the ranch when the straw-boss decrees a goat-roping should take place. What really happens is the veteran cowboys arm the greenhorns with some lariats late in the afternoon and take them to the pen that holds some Billy goats. This is before they get into bigger beasts -- horses and cattle – yet what appears to be easy most certainly is not. ... (click for more)