Girls basketball runner-up in 9AAA tourney
Story by Zack Womble
LEBANON – For the first time in District 9-AAA tournament history, the Lebanon Devilettes are champions.
Lebanon defeated defending champion and regular-season champion, Beech, 49-46 Monday night at Wilson Central.
The back-and-forth game saw seven lead changes in the first half and four more lead changes in the second half.
Both teams carried big leads in the first half, but it was the Devilettes who took a 25-22 lead into the locker room thanks in large part to a 13-3 run that brought Lebanon back from down nine with four minutes left in the second quarter.
Lebanon started the third quarter right where they left off the second quarte, racing out to a 34-25 advantage with just 1:40 left in the third quarter.
Until that point, the only scoring threat for the Lady Bucs was senior guard Deshiya Hoosier, who had 14 of the Lady Bucs’ 25 total points.
“I thought Deshiya played well, but we just got to get other people to do as well as she did,” Beech head coach Kristi Utley said.
Her team responded over the next minute-plus, outscoring Lebanon 6-0 on a Mia Dean 3-pointer and a Jana Claire Swafford old-fashioned three-point play.
“The resiliency to battle back after being down like that I am proud of them for,” Utley added. “It was a possession game tonight, and unfortunately, we ran out of possessions.”
Trailing 34-31 to start the fourth quarter, Beech battled back to tie the game at 36, and then took the lead 39-38 when Dean sank her second and third 3-pointer of the game with just over five minutes remaining.
The one-point lead was the Lady Bucs’ first lead of the game since they led 19-18 in the second quarter.
Over the next two minutes, the game saw two ties and two lead changes, but it was Anne Heidebrecht’s clutch 3-point shooting that made the difference down the stretch.
Tied at 44, Heidebrecht caught and fired, making her fourth 3-pointer of the game for a lead Lebanon would not surrender.
The two teams traded free throws over the next minute-plus, but Lebanon’s inability to sink clutch free throws at the end of the game gave Beech one more opportunity to keep the game alive with seven seconds remaining.
“We wanted to run an elevator screen on the other side, but when they doubled us, I was just hoping Mia (Dean) would get a shot off,” Utley said of the last play.
Looking for Swafford in the corner, JC could not get a clean look at the basket as her shot went out of bounds as time expired, giving Lebanon the victory and the number one seed for the Region 5-AAA tournament.
The loss means that Beech will host Henry County on Friday, February 28, at 7 p.m.
Friday’s meeting between the Lady Bucs and the Lady Patriots will be the two team’s first meeting since 2003 when they played to a 56-42 Lady Buc victory.
Lebanon (49): Anne Heidebrecht 15, Addie Porter 12, Avery Harris 7, Meioshe Mason 6, Allissa Mulaski 5, Rebecca Brown 4.
Beech (46): Deshiya Hooser 21, Mia Dean 10, JC Swafford 9, Riley Long 3, Bri Ellis 2, Natasia Jones 1.