In an absolute slugfest to the final buzzer, the West Middle School girls basketball team took their lumps, but found a way to battle back, coming up just short in the finals of the TMSAA Class AA State Final, losing to Martin 45-43 at Stewarts Creek High School on Saturday.
The Lady Bobcats trailed by eight points three times on Saturday. And all three times, West found a way to answer back.
With 58.3 seconds remaining in the contest, the Lady Bobcats grabbed their first lead of the game. Nia Sheffield hit the second of two free-throw attempts for West, giving her team a 41-40 edge.
Martin answered right back though, as Jada Harrison knocked down a pair of free throws, putting the Lady Chargers right back in front 42-41 with 36.5 seconds left on the clock.
Thirteen seconds later, West grabbed its second lead of the game. This time, Lucy Nutt battled her way to the basket, knocking down a layup with 23.9 seconds remaining in the contest, as the Lady Bobcats grabbed a 43-42 advantage.
McCall Sims put the game away for Martin with back-to-back clutch plays. On the ensuing in-bounds play, Sims rushed down court and got inside the paint, scoring to put the Lady Chargers up 44-43 with 11 seconds remaining on the clock.
After getting fouled with 4.2 seconds remaining, Sims added one of two free-throw attempts, putting Martin up 45-43.
Nutt took the final shot for West, dribbling the ball up past midcourt, after a timeout by the Lady Bobcats. Her shot fell short, as time expired and Martin celebrated the victory.
In the first quarter on Saturday, the Lady Chargers came out firing on all cylinders from 3-point range, hitting four shots, grabbing a 12-4 lead with 2:24 left in the opening period. West’s offense ran through Olivia Swain in the first quarter, as the Lady Bobcats’ forward put up all eight of her team’s points, and West trailed 14-8 at the end of the first period.
Baylee Buchanan hit four-straight key free throws to start the second quarter and Sheffield added a 3, as the Lady Bobcats rallied to tie the game at 15 with 2:06 left in the first half. However, Martin closed the second period on a 7-0 run, taking a 22-15 lead into halftime.
Swain knocked down the first basket of the third quarter for West, before Morgan Carr connected on a 3, cutting the Lady Bobcats’ deficit to 23-20 with 2:45 remaining in the period. The Lady Chargers again answered with a run, going ahead 30-22 with 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
Liv Bowen put up the final basket of the period for West, knocking down a layup, cutting the Lady Bobcats’ deficit down to 30-24 heading into the final quarter of play.
After trailing 34-29 with four minutes left, West rallied and scored five-straight points and tying the contest. Swain scored all five of those points, hitting a pair of shots and then adding a free throw with 3:17 remaining to even the matchup at 34.
Martin countered with a quick 6-2 run, taking a 40-36 advantage with 1:53 remaining in the contest. West answered right back with five-straight points to take its first lead of the game. Bowen and Nutt hit back-to-back shots for the Lady Bobcats, before Sheffield put her team in front 41-40 with 58.3 seconds on the clock.
Swain led West in scoring on the night, netting 16 points in the victory. Nutt added eight points for the Lady Bobcats, while Bowen and Buchanan each finished with six. Sheffield put up four points, before Carr rounded out the scoring for West with three points.
In order to gain a seat into the TMSAA Class AA State Title Game, the Lady Bobcats pummeled KIPP Memphis Collegiate School 53-26 at Stewarts Creek Middle School on Friday.
During that matchup, West forced 19 first-half turnovers, running away with a 27-7 halftime advantage. That lead grew in the second half, as the Lady Bobcats put up 16 points in the third quarter, despite substituting liberally, taking a 43-13 lead into the final period of play.
In the fourth quarter, West put up 10 points, leaving all of its starters out of the lineup. KIPP put together its best offensive performance with 13 points in the fourth quarter, before the Lady Bobcats were able to celebrate.
Swain again led West in scoring on Friday night, putting up 10 points. Bowen and Bailey Trussell each scored eight points in the victory. Sheffield and Rachel Ferguson scored six points, while Nutt finished her night with five points.
K.K. Sims scored four points for the Lady Bobcats. Carr, Buchanan and Trinity Goon rounded out the scoring for West, each netting two points.