The third time was the charm for the Signal Mountain boys, but not so for the Red Bank girls.
The second-seeded Eagles avenged two regular-season losses to Tyner on Tuesday night at Howard’s Henry Bowles Gymnasium to win their first District 6-AA championship by a 46-40 final.
The second-seeded Lionettes were facing the top-seeded Signal Mountain Lady Eagles. The third game was much closer than the first two, but the Lady Eagles were still able to claim the title with the 47-45 victory.
Red Bank and Signal Mountain will both be at home for Friday’s region openers while the Signal Mountain boys and Tyner will both be at home on Saturday.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN GIRLS 47, RED BANK 45: The Lady Eagles had trounced Red Bank in both regular-season games, winning by an average of more than 20 points both times.
Tuesday’s third meeting was much more competitive and the outcome wasn’t determined until the final buzzer sounded.
“It was ugly, but we’ll take it and move on,” said Signal Mountain coach Kendra Bell after her team had improved to 19-11.
“Give Red Bank a lot of credit as they had a good game plan and hit a lot of 3s. It seemed like we got in early foul trouble and we missed a lot of free throws, but we’ve been terrible from the line all year. I’m just not sure how we won,” she added.
Red Bank coach Bailey McGinnis just wanted her players to lay it on the line with their best effort possible. She got exactly that, but it still wasn’t enough to pull off the win.
“I keep replaying the game in my head, but I felt like we left everything on the court and played as hard as we possibly could,” McGinnis said later.
“We only hit six of 14 free throws. If we hit a few more of those, it would have been a different outcome. We wanted to pressure their guards more and that made a difference, but we took a few possessions off and you can’t do that against a good team like Signal Mountain.
“We had a lot less turnovers tonight than we had before, but it’s hard to feel good about one part of the game when another part left a lot to be desired. Those little things add up in a game like this.
“We’re happy that we get to host a game on Friday. We’ll see what happens,” McGinnis added.
Signal Mountain got a 3 from Mary Witherspoon and a drive down the lane from Jolie McGann to create a 10-4 lead when the first quarter ended, but Red Bank had the upper hand at halftime by scoring eight unanswered points in the final minute for a 23-22 lead at that point.
Layla Babb had five of those points while Jasmine Roberts canned a 3 with 15 seconds left to put the Lionettes ahead at the break.
The Lady Eagles had their biggest lead of the game at 35-27 with 2:55 left in the third stanza before Red Bank knotted the score with eight straight, only to have Kendall Davis give the Lady Eagles a 38-35 lead with a 3 at the end of the third quarter.
Olivia Koontz had back-to-back buckets to start the fourth for a 42-35 lead, but the Lionettes kept battling and were within one at 44-43 with 45.8 seconds left following another 3 by Roberts.
The Lady Eagles could have made their job a whole lot easier if they had been able to convert at the free throw line, but they only hit five of 12 in that last eight minutes – including the front end of two bonus situations.
Witherspoon hit all five of those charity tosses, including three straight in the final minute to give her team a 47-43 lead.
Roberts hit the second of two with 17.5 seconds left while Bailey Lee did the same with 12.1 ticks left.
Koontz missed two straight with 9.9 seconds left and Red Bank had one final chance to either tie or win, but Shelby Romans’ shot was partially blocked as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
Koontz had 13 points to lead a trio of Lady Eagles in double figures while Witherspoon finished with a dozen and Davis 10. McGann was next with nine points.
Roberts scored 15 points to lead Red Bank while Babb was next with 14.
Red Bank had an unofficial 32-27 edge in rebounds as Lee grabbed 13 for the Lionettes and Jayla Hardy eight for Signal Mountain.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN BOYS 46, TYNER 40: The Rams had prevailed twice during the regular season, although both times the scores were close. The Eagles were able to turn the tables in the most important meeting so far.
“This feels so good. This was by far the biggest win I’ve ever had at Signal Mountain,” said an obviously pleased Signal Mountain coach Steve Redman.
“We’re not very good at holding the ball, but we were able to make a few key free throws late. We also know that Tyner has some great shooters, so we made it a point to have a hand in their faces tonight.
“Just a play here and there was the difference. There was that mad scramble late, but we were able to come away with the ball and get a big layup. That may have been the difference,” Redman expressed.
Tyner coach E’Jay Ward has been on both sides of a game like this. Tuesday’s game was a tough loss, but it’s not the end of the season.
‘I think they may have wanted it a little bit more than we did, but both teams really wanted to win,” he said after a talk with his team.
“There were some plays we left out there and we didn’t take advantage of our one on one matchups. I’m pleased with our effort, but disappointed with the outcome. I’ve been in situations like this before and know this isn’t the end of the world.
“I’m confident that we’ll bounce back and I hope we get a chance to play Signal Mountain in the region championship next week,” Ward concluded on a positive note.
It was nip and tuck from start to finish.
A 3 from Javon Craddock right before the buzzer gave Tyner a 10-7 lead when the first quarter ended while the Eagles used a 3 from Sylvestro Sylvestro and a putback from Jarren Rodden for a 25-24 lead at intermission.
A 3 from Michael Little midway through the third stanza allowed Tyner to have a 33-32 lead with eight minutes to play, setting up a frantic and fast-paced final quarter.
Craddock hit another long one with 2:25 to play to knot the score at 40-40, but the Rams didn’t score again as the Eagles finished the game on a 6-0 run.
Sylvestro finished with five 3s to lead the Eagles with 17 points. Rodden was also in double figures with 14.
Solomon Bridgeman had 16 points to lead the Rams while Craddock followed with a dozen.
Both teams were credited unofficially with 26 rebounds. Rodden had a dozen for Signal Mountain while Bridgeman had nine for the Rams.
RED BANK 4 19 12 10 -- 45
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 10 12 16 9 -- 47
RED BANK (45) – Roberts 15, Babb 14, Romans, Ware, Claiborne 6, Kennebrew 4, Bowens, Lee 6.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (47) – Davis 10, Hardy 3, McGann 9, Witherspoon 12, Koontz 13.
3-POINT GOALS: Red Bank 7 (Roberts 4, Babb, Claiborne 2); Signal Mountain 6 (Davis 3, McGann, Witherspoon 2).
GIRLS ALL-TOURNAMENT: Tyliyah Ward, Kimia Carter (Brainerd); Keniah Watkins, Leaundra Melton (Tyner); Layla Babb, Bailey Lee, Shelby Romans (Red Bank); Kendall Davis, Olivia Koontz and MVP Jayla Hardy (Signal Mountain.)
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 7 18 7 14 -- 46
TYNER 10 14 9 7 -- 40
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (46) – Howley 1, Allen 6, Sylvestro 17, Webb 4, Honroth 4, Rodden 14, Byrd.
TYNER (40) – Bridgeman 16, Grace 4, Craddock 12, Little 3, Elston, Bowens, Lattimore, Hinton 5.
3-POINT GOALS: Signal Mountain 5 (Sylvestro 5); Tyner 6 (Craddock 4, Little, Hinton).
BOYS ALL-TOURNAMENT: Marquez Williams, Rico Weaver (Howard); Tory Sewell, Lucas Brown (Red Bank); Jeremy Elston, Amon Grace, Javon Craddock (Tyner); Wil Allen, Jarren Rodden and MVP Owen Honroth (Signal Mountain).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)