The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles didn’t waste any time taking charge of their Region 3-AA quarterfinal basketball game with the Sequoyah Lady Chiefs at Signal Mountain Friday night.
And it wasn’t long after that that any doubt was removed about which team would advance to Monday’s semifinals at Loudon High School.
The District 6-AA champion Lady Eagles improved to 22-10 with their 10th straight win, this one by a final score of 45-27.
The Lady Chiefs end a tough season at 7-20 with their third straight loss.
Sophomore Lamiah Walker, who’s as good as anybody in town when she wants to be, nailed a 3 immediately and the Lady Eagles had a 3-0 lead.
Abbey Borden canned a 3 to get the Lady Chiefs within a point at 5-4 with 4:45 to play in the first quarter.
By the time Borden sank a pair of free throws with 1:38 left in the half, Signal Mountain had reeled off 18 unanswered points and the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Mallorie Harrell sank another 3 a bit more than a minute later for the Lady Chiefs before Olivia Koontz scored on a putback just prior to the halftime horn to keep her team comfortably ahead 25-9 at intermission.
Borden sank the second of two free throws to start the second half to make it 25-10, but another 10-point run by the Lady Eagles made it 35-10 with 2:01 left in the third stanza.
Harrell sank two more charity tosses with 1:30 showing as the home team was up 35-12 with eight minutes to play.
The Lady Eagles put a lot of time and effort into their defense. Their effort paid off in this game as Sequoyah had a dozen points through three quarters and half of those came at the free throw line. The visitors only had two field goals at that point and both were from long range.
The defensive intensity lightened up a bit in the fourth quarter as subs got in the game.
The Lady Chiefs tallied more points in the final stanza with 15 than they had up to that point, making the final score just a bit more respectable.
Signal Mountain coach Kendra Bell was just happy to advance to Monday’s semifinal where her team will face McMinn Central, a 63-56 winner over Brainerd Friday night.
“We aren’t the prettiest team in America offensively, but we battled through and I’m happy about that,” she said shortly after the final horn sounded.
“We work really hard every day on our man-to-man defense and it’s nice to see that hard work pay off. I’m really proud of our bench as they played with a lot of energy. Tough defense takes a lot of work and that was a key for us tonight.
“We made good decisions at times offensively and there were times when our decisions weren’t so good, but this was a good solid win. We were focused on what we needed to do and Monday is a big game for us,” Bell added.
Sequoyah coach Allyson Bowers also pointed to Signal’s defensive intensity as a key to Friday’s outcome.
“Signal Mountain did a good job of controlling us on the boards and we just couldn’t hit a shot early on,” the first-year coach explained after a lengthy post-game chat with her girls.
“That bad start got us in a hole. We started digging out in the second half, but hit another shooting slump. We just couldn’t find our niche offensively.
“We finally started playing more aggressively on offense, but we fought to the end and I was proud of our ‘no quit’ attitude,” Bowers nodded.
Sophomore Olivia Koontz, the District tournament MVP, had another big game as the Lady Chiefs simply didn’t have anyone to defend her. She finished with 19 points and nine rebounds as the Lady Eagles had an unofficial 31-15 edge on the glass.
Walker followed with a dozen points and also nine rebounds while Jaylah Hardy snagged six boards.
Harrell scored 11 points to lead Sequoyah while Borden finished with nine. Grace Wiggins had five rebounds for the Lady Chiefs while Harrell claimed four.
SEQUOYAH 4 5 3 15 -- 27
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 8 17 10 10 -- 45
SEQUOYAH (27) – Belcher 3, Brackett 1, Wiggins, Harrell 11, Weese 3, Bailey, Borden 9.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (45) – Hanson, Roberson, Kennedy 4, Hardy 4, Riese, Boals, Sitton, McGann 3, Walker 12, McCarter 3, Koontz 19.
3-POINT SHOTS: Sequoyah 5 (Belcher, Harrell 2, Weese, Borden); Signal Mountain 3 (McGann, Walker, McCarter).
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)