There were a couple of upsets in the girls' semifinals on Monday night at East Ridge's Catherine Neely Gymnasium in the Region 3-AA basketball tournament.
Both district champions got beat with 5-AA winner McMinn Central losing in overtime to the Sequoyah Lady Chiefs before Loudon's Lady Indians ended Brainerd's season in the finale.
Tuesday's schedule has the boys semis on tap with McMinn Central facing Brainerd in the opener at 6 with Tyner facing East Ridge in the second game.
Wednesday's 3-AA championship between Sequoyah and Loudon will begin at 7 p.m.
LOUDON 76, BRAINERD 68: This one looked like a runaway for the first three quarters before the Lady Panthers made an incredible comeback.
Brainerd never led in this one as the Lady Indians used the strong inside presence of Aspen Jordan to take charge in the first half.
With the 6-2 junior scoring 21 of her game-high 34 points in the opening two stanzas, the Lady Redskins forged to a 45-28 lead at the break.
Loudon's biggest lead of 60-37 came following a layup by Jordan with 2:29 left in the third stanza.
Brainerd then scored nine of the final 10 points of the quarter to trail by 61-46 with eight minutes to play.
Miriah Small canned a 3 to start the final quarter as Loudon's lead increased to 64-46 before the Lady Panthers went on another run -- this one good for 11 straight points -- before Rachel Kelley's 3 at the 5:06 mark got Loudon's lead back to 67-57.
Brainerd's sharp-shooting sophomore Jamee Ward, went down hard on the next possession and never returned to the game, suffering a possible broken right ankle under the Lady Panthers' goal.
Despite losing their go-to player, the Lady Panthers never backed down.
Three straight buckets by Jameka Brown got Brainerd to within five points at 73-68 with 25.8 seconds to play before the Lady Redskins sank three of four free throws in the waning seconds to prevent any further damage.
"We played about as well as we could play in the first half, but I wish that we had been more patient in the second half," said Loudon's first-year coach Ronnie Roberts after his team had improved to 16-14 overall.
"We couldn't control the Ward girl as she scored from everywhere, but I was sorry to see her get hurt. But anytime you get to the region final, you have to be happy. We won our district semfinal with a 3 at the buzzer, so we've been in some close games this year," Roberts added.
Brainerd coach Tyrus Ward couldn't have been more proud of his girls after the season ended at 19-8.
"That was a tough one as I just can't hold back my tears," he said after exiting the Lady Panther dressing room.
"Those girls just kept believing. Then Jamee went out and we fell short. These girls are used to being in tough situations. That Jordan girl was as good as advertised as she did a great job of running the floor and finishing. This is a setback, but it's a setup for a comeback," Ward concluded, noting that there are no seniors on Brainerd's team.
While Jordan finished with 34 points to lead both teams, teammate Bre Snow was also in double figures with 17.
Ward was tops for Brainerd with 28 points while Brown was next with 21.
SEQUOYAH 72, McMINN CENTRAL 60 (OT): This one was a dandy from the opening tip.
The Lady Chiefs had a 16-15 lead after one quarter while the Chargerettes had the upper hand at 29-28 when the second quarter ended.
McMinn Central still had the lead at 41-37 when the third quarter ended.
The Lady Chiefs forced the Chargerettes to play from behind most of the fourth quarter.
Central's Ally Coleman scored on a short jumper in the lane to knot the score at 55-all before the Lady Chiefs went back ahead on a pair of free throws by Hunter Simpson with 59 seconds left in regulation.
Then with 43 seconds left, Peyton Williams scored on a drive down the lane to tie the score for the final time.
Simpson had a steal at midcourt in the waning seconds, but her 40-footer was off the rim as the horn sounded.
The overtime belonged to the Lady Chiefs.
Sequoyah scored the first six points before the Chargerettes got a putback from Jacobi Lynn and then a free throw by Lynn to get within 63-60 with 2:06 remaining.
The Lady Chiefs then put the game out of reach by scoring the final nine points to win by a dozen.
"It's been a long time since we've beaten them, so we're going to enjoy it for a little while tonight, but we'll go back to work tomorrow," said Sequoyah coach Eddie Gambrell after his team improved to 21-8 with its first win over the Chargerettes in 15 years.
"We lost to them twice by a total of five points, but we believed we could do it tonight. There was never a doubt in my mind that we were ready when the overtime period began," he added.
Johnny Morgan, who has been coaching the Chargerettes for 36 years, was direct and to the point in his post-game comments.
"They were playing to win and we were playing not to lose," the personable Morgan began.
"We played hard, but tonight just wasn't our night," he added, his team concluding its season at 19-10.
Simpson had 33 to lead the Lady Chiefs while teammate Savanna Atchley was also in double figures with 16.
Lynn was tops for McMinn Central with 25 while Williams finished with 11.
LOUDON 20 25 16 15 -- 76
BRAINERD 18 10 18 22 -- 68
LOUDON (76) -- Jordan 34, Tucker, Peyton 4, Small 7, Malone 4, Kelley 7, Snow 17, Crabtree 1.
BRAINERD (68) -- Ward 28, Brown 21, Walker 4, Price, Ashley, McClendon 2, Sparks, Cosme, Calloway 3.
3-POINT GOALS: Loudon 6 (Peyton, Small 2, Kelley, Snow 2); Brainerd 4 (Ward 2, Brown 2).
SEQUOYAH 16 12 9 20 15 -- 72
McMINN CENTRAL 15 14 12 16 3 -- 60
SEQUOYAH (72) -- Simpson 33, Atchley 16, Ingram 2, White 2, Whited 5, Welshan 8, Isbill 4.
McMINN CENTRAL (60) -- Lynn 25, Martin, Wampler, Truelove, Williams 11, Cherry 6, Plaster 6, Coleman 7, Trentham 5, Atkins.
3-POINT GOALS: Sequoyah 2 (Atchley 2); McMinn Central 1 (Lynn).
(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)