Heritage Beats Signal Mountain In 3-AAA Girls Final

Lady Eagles Fall 55-45 After Lady Mountaineers Finish Game On 10-0 Run

  • Wednesday, February 28, 2024
  • John Hunt

Signal Mountain coach Kendra Bell knew that the work was cut out for her Lady Eagles basketball team as they faced the Heritage Lady Mountaineers at East Ridge High School’s Catherine Neely Gymnasium Wednesday night for the Region 3-AAA championship and they had to play their absolute best if they wanted to win.

The Lady Eagles played with a lot of heart as they gave their best effort, but it still wasn’t good enough as the Lady Mountaineers finished the game on a 10-0 run to prevail by a 55-45 margin.

It was the second-straight year for Signal Mountain to finish second in the region tournament after losing a tough one at home last year to Soddy Daisy.

Heritage is now 29-3 with its seventh straight win while Signal Mountain is now 22-7 for the season. Heritage will be at home on Saturday for a sectional game with 31-3 White County while Signal Mountain will be on the road at Upperman after the Lady Bees beat White County, 52-45. The winners advancing to the Girls State Tournament next week in Murfreesboro at MTSU.

Heritage coach Rick Howard had a defensive plan in mind that seemed to work to almost perfection. He knew that junior post Carlee Lowry would most likely get her points, but the key for his team was limiting the production from other Lady Eagles.

Lowry scored her 23 points, but nobody else wearing a Signal Mountain uniform got more than seven as Howard’s plan worked just fine.

“We just had to settle down and play our game, but we realized in that last timeout that it was time to go,” he said while members of his team whooped and hollered with each other and Heritage followers.

“I thought we played with a lot of heart, but our defense was great and we just had to grind it out. I don’t think we played our best game, but we just wanted to let the Lowry girl get her points and shut everyone else down. That seemed to work pretty well,” he added.

Signal Mountain’s Bell was somewhat disappointed with the final result, but she had nothing but praise for her team as they battled for all they were worth and really gave themselves a chance to win against a really good opponent.

“I just wanted us to give ourselves a chance and we did, but we had some critical turnovers at the end that really hurt as we got a little antsy when we fell behind,” she said standing outside the Signal Mountain dressing room.

“We had our chances and I’m proud of that, but they put so much pressure on us defensively that they just took us out of our offense. They’re big and physical and a really good basketball team, but we were there and just couldn’t make it happen at the end,” she smiled.

Lowry scored all six of her team’s points in the first half, including four in the first two minutes that put the Lady Eagles up 4-1 with 6:04 to play in the opening stanza.

The Lady Mountaineers then scored nine straight points – including seven by Jay Coker – to take the lead at 10-4. A third bucket by Lowry trimmed the difference to 10-6 when the first quarter ended.

Back-to-back buckets from Alayah Smyth and Chloe Heath at the second of the second stanza extended the Heritage lead to 14-6, but the Lady Eagles finished the half by scoring 13 of the final 17 points for a 19-18 lead at intermission.

The third quarter was a real battle between these two teams as there were six lead changes during that eight-minute span, but a drive along the baseline by Megan Clark in the final minute put Signal Mountain ahead 36-34 with one quarter to play.

A 10-0 run to start the fourth put Heritage up 44-36 with 5:42 to play before the Lady Eagles rallied to get within one at 44-43 following two free throws by Lowry with 3:15 to play.

Abby Walker scored on a drive down the lane with 2:51 to play as the Lady Eagles knotted the score for the last time at 45-45, but they didn’t score again as Heritage finished by scoring the final 10 points.

Coker scored 18 points to lead the Lady Mountaineers while Smyth and Swaney followed with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Lowry had 23 for the Lady Eagles, but didn’t have much help as Ashlyn Rock was next on the scoring list with seven points.

Signal Mountain did have an unofficial 23-16 edge in rebounds as Lowry grabbed 11 for the Lady Eagles. Coker and Heath both had five for Heritage.

HERITAGE 10 8 16 21 -- 55

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 6 13 17 9 -- 45

HERITAGE (55) – Alayah Smyth 12, Byrd, Carsyn Swaney 11, Jay Coker 18, Graves, Heath 9, Morris, K. Coker 5, Boyce.

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN (45) – Walker 4, Roberson 3, Clark 3, Redman 5, Carlee Lowry 23, Rock 7.

3-POINT GOALS: Heritage 3 (J. Coker, Heath, K. Coker); Signal Mountain 3 (Roberson, Redman, Rock).

GIRLS ALL-REGION TOURNAMENT TEAM: Rylee Bolling and Alexis Varner (Lenoir City); Hannah Patterson and Alivia Hall (Soddy Daisy); Megan Clark, Ashlyn Rock and Carlee Lowry (Signal Mountain); Chloe Heath, Jay Coker and MVP Carsyn Swaney (Heritage).

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)

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