Not only did Tullahoma close out the regular season with a 60-48 home win over Franklin County on Thursday, it additionally locked up its spot in the Region 4-AAA Tournament with the victory.
The Lady Wildcats wrapped up the regular season with a 13-13 overall record, putting together an 8-4 mark against district opponents. That performance gives Tullahoma the No. 2 seed heading into next week’s District 8-AAA Tournament, ensuring a first-round bye and guaranteeing the Lady Wildcats can finish no worse than fourth in that tournament. The top four teams from the district tournament automatically qualify for the Region 4-AAA Tournament, which will take place later this month.
Tullahoma will open its District 8-AAA Tournament run on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Wildcats will have to wait and see who they play.
The District 8-AAA Tournament Play-In Game, between Columbia and Lawrence County, will take place on Saturday. As of press time, the result of that contest was unavailable. The winner of that matchup will go on to face Franklin County in Winchester on Monday. From that point, every game of the district tournament will be played at Lawrence County High School. The winner of that Monday matchup will face Tullahoma at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Lawrenceburg.
After opening the season with 0-6 record, Tullahoma went 13-7 the remainder of the year, clawing its way back to .500. After a tough start to the season, THS Head Coach Cody McMurtry said it was a testament to his team’s resolve to be able to get the second seed in the district tournament.
“Tonight was a big win for us because of where this team was and how much that we’ve grown throughout the year,” McMurtry said. “To be able to secure second place in the district, with everything that the girls have gone through all year, to just keep getting better ... We told them at the end of the game that it was huge. They could have mailed it in at the beginning of the year. Instead, they just rolled up their sleeves and decided that they were going to fight and compete in every game and that’s what they did.”
After a back-and-forth start to Thursday night’s matchup, Tullahoma took control in the middle of the second quarter, never relinquishing that advantage.
Trailing 16-14, Jessica Edde knocked down a 3-pointer, putting the Lady Wildcats up 17-16 with 4:15 left in the first half.
Edde’s 3 sparked a 13-2 run to close out the second period, as Tullahoma took a 27-18 lead into halftime. Julia Duncan led the Lady Wildcats in scoring during that run, netting eight points, while Kailyn Farrell added a basket of her own to give their team the edge at halftime.
Tullahoma picked up where it left off in the second half, scoring seven of the first nine points in the third quarter. Farrell scored four points, while Duncan added three, giving the Lady Wildcats a 34-20 edge with 4:53 remaining in the third period.
Franklin County wouldn’t go away, narrowing that deficit and trailing 38-32 heading into the final period of play. Five different Rebelettes got into the scoring column in the third quarter, led by Kinzie Taylor and CeCe Smith who each scored four points.
Farrell scored the final four points for the Lady Wildcats in the third quarter, helping her team hold on to its edge.
Franklin County continued to narrow the gap, including closing the deficit to a three-point contest, after Laila Blackwell buried a 3, making the score 40-37 with 5:59 remaining in the contest. However, Tullahoma went on a 14-4 run, grabbing a 54-41 advantage with 1:13 left in the clock.
Farrell led Tullahoma during that stretch with five points. Duncan and Ty Hardin each hit a pair of baskets, scoring four points, while Macey Bowman knocked down a free throw.
Duncan went on to add four more free throws over the final minute of play for the Lady Wildcats. Farrell added a pair of free throws as well, helping close out the victory for Tullahoma.
Duncan led the Lady Wildcats in scoring on the night, putting up 26 points in the victory. Farrell added double figures as well, netting 21 points. Edde scored six points, while Hardin scored four points and Bowman rounded out the scoring with three points for Tullahoma.