Tullahoma grabbed the lead over Lebanon in the final two minutes of the first half and never relinquished that advantage on its way to pulling a 69-52 upset win at home on Friday night.
Heading into Friday’s matchup, Lebanon was ranked No. 5 and had already defeated Tullahoma earlier this season. On Dec. 3, the Lady Wildcats were beaten by the Devilettes 55-49 in Lebanon on Dec. 3. Following that loss, Tullahoma made it a high-priority to get a win during the rematch on Friday.
“The players had this game circled,” said THS Head Coach Cody McMurtry. “For an out-of-district opponent, this is about as big for our team. It was a huge win for us… they really wanted to come out and prove to everyone around that they belong. I’m not saying that we have arrived yet, but they wanted to show that they put in the work and that they can compete on any given night with anybody.”
With 2:27 left in the second quarter, Julia Duncan knocked down a basket to put Tullahoma in front 20-19. The Lady Wildcats outscored Lebanon 6-1 the remainder of the period, taking a 26-20 advantage into halftime.
Ty Hardin got that run started with a pair of free throws, before Duncan followed with a 3-pointer. Macey Bowman put up the final point for Tullahoma in the first half, hitting a free throw with 5.6 seconds left in the period.
Lebanon knocked down a 3 to start the second half, but the Lady Wildcats followed with five of the next six points. Kailyn Farrell netted a basket for Tullahoma, before Jessica Edde buried a 3-pointer to make the score 31-24 with 5:47 remaining in the third quarter.
Edde and Bowman stepped up for the Lady Wildcats in that third quarter, as the duo combined for 17 of Tullahoma’s 20 points in the quarter. Edde knocked down three 3-pointers and then added a pair of free throws to finish with 11 points in the third quarter. Bowman hit a pair of 3-pointers of her own, tallying six points in the period.
“Those two have been playing with a lot of confidence as they stepped up and hit a lot of shots,” McMurtry said. “Macey has really come into her own, and she has her confidence going… Jessica has been on fire lately.
While Bowman and Edde turned their possessions into points, their head coach noted that several other players stepped up when they were called. With key players out in the third quarter due to foul trouble, the Lady Wildcats didn’t fold and instead took a 46-35 lead into the final period of play.
“I really thought we had a great lift from Sierra Neese, Charleigh Scott, Lucy Nutt and McKenna Buckner for about a three-minute stretch,” McMurtry said. “I was really hoping to get a good 30-second stretch from them, but we got three-and-half minutes out of them. That was huge for us, because it gave our girls some time to rest and we were in foul trouble there.”
It was Nutt who connected with the first basket of the fourth quarter for Tullahoma. After Lebanon hit a free throw, Nutt knocked down a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Wildcats a 49-36 advantage with 6:53 left in the ballgame.
The final minutes of Friday’s game featured each team going back-and-forth with each other. That was until Tullahoma closed the game out by scoring six of the final eight points to secure the victory.
Duncan led the Lady Wildcats in scoring, after she netted 26 points in the win. Farrell and Edde each finished their nights with 13 points. Farrell finished her night with a double-double, adding 13 rebounds to her stat line along with two steals and a pair of blocks.
Bowman rounded out double figures in scoring for the Lady Wildcats, totaling 11 points. Nutt added three points in the win, while Hardin scored two points and Buckner hit a free throw.
Friday’s win also allowed Tullahoma (13-2, 2-0) to add to its winning streak, which is now currently up to 10 games. The Lady Wildcats will host Moore County for a non-district matchup on Tuesday, before welcoming in district foe Lawrence County on Friday. Tipoff on both days is scheduled for 6 p.m.