By TREY WILLIAMS
After eking out a 30-28 victory against Dobyns-Bennett in the District 1-AAA tournament semifinals Friday, the Daniel Boone girls basketball team appeared intent on taking Science Hill to the wire.
The Trailblazers, defeated easily by the top-seeded Hilltoppers during both regular season meetings, handled full-court pressure better early, and when Kayla Gibson hit her third 3-pointer the ‘Blazers trailed 35-34 some two minutes into the fourth quarter.
The ‘Toppers pulled away at the foul line for a 56-39 victory, but, a runner-up finish scored Boone (17-11) a home game in the first round of the regional on Friday against Morristown West (14-13).
“I was proud of our girls’ effort,” Boone coach Beau Hauldren said. “They fought hard. They showed some grit, maybe for the first time all year. You could tell they wanted to win the game, and especially as the game went on you could see the confidence in their eyes growing.
“Our girls believe a little bit more now. So we’re excited about Friday night and hopefully Monday, and hopefully maybe getting another chance at Science Hill in that regional championship game.”
Boone struggled mightily against Science Hill’s full-court pressure during the regular season.
“We handled the pressure a lot better there in the first half – to the point where they got out of it because we started making layups against it,” Hauldren said. “You could just see as the game progressed we got more confident. Madi (Runnels) started taking the ball to the rack. Jaycie (Jenkins) started taking the ball to the rack. Gibson hit three 3-pointers and our crowd was into it. We had great support and I think our girls fed off that.”
The Hillltoppers turned up the heat defensively after Gibson cut the lead to one.
“They jumped back in their press and we kind of went brain-dead on what we were doing at the beginning of the game to break their pressure,” Hauldren said, “and they were able to turn us over there and score some buckets. And then when we had to start fouling, they were making foul shots and we weren’t scoring on the other end and that kind of helped them balloon that lead out.”
Jaycie Jenkins led Boone with 10 points against Science Hill. Gibson and Runnels scored nine and eight, respectively.
The win against Dobyns-Bennett was particularly impressive when considering Runnels had an off night offensively. Of course, a lot of people do in a 30-28 game.
“We were nervous that Friday night,” Hauldren said, “and obviously that’s something you’ve gotta deal with when you don’t play for a week and you get a bye in that first round, and the team that you play already has a win on that court. And it was a good crowd.
“We were nervous, especially in the first quarter. I think our hands were shaking a little bit. We’d make a pass and the ball would bounce off and go out of bounds. But we settled in.”
Jenkins scored 11 points to lead the ‘Blazers. Gibson and Savannah Jessee each scored six.
“Jaycie scored 11 to lead us,” Hauldren said, “and Kayla Gibson came up with two big 3-pointers there in the second half that kind of got us going offensively a little bit.”
Points are generally hard to come by against Dobyns-Bennett coach Bill Francis’ teams.
“He’s as good as they come,” Hauldren said. “He knows what you’re gonna do. His teams are crisp offensively and they guard you defensively. They don’t make a lot of mistakes.”
It’ll be more of the same when Johnny Galyon brings Morristown West to Gray on Friday. Hauldren would be surprised if Jenkins isn’t dealing with yet another junk defense.
“Johnny’s a good coach,” Hauldren said. “He’s like Bill. They do what they do on offense and they guard your butt in the half-court on defense. So it’s gonna be a tough game Friday night.”
Hauldren said West ran a diamond-and-one defense against South Greene and Jefferson County.
“We’ve played against a diamond-and-one and a box-and-one, but it’s like something put in the day before,” Hauldren said. “So they don’t know how to rotate the diamond or rotate the box. Johnny does a great job, and those girls will know how to rotate out of that diamond or that box.
“But we’ve seen it all year. If they run it, we’ve got stuff for it. At the end of the day, other people have got to make plays and they’ve gotta make shots.”
The David Crockett boys and girls teams each advanced to the Region 1-AAA tournament as well, and both will travel for regional openers. Crockett’s boys (21-10) will visit second-seeded South-Doyle (21-8) on Saturday. The Pioneers girls (14-18) travel to Jefferson County (23-5) on Friday.
After defeating Volunteer 77-55 to clinch a regional berth, Crockett’s boys lost 68-65 in double-overtime against Dobyns-Bennett and defeated Tennessee High (72-64) for the third straight time this season in the third-place game.
Crockett jumped out to a 25-12 lead against Dobyns-Bennett and had numerous chances to win in regulation and the two extra sessions.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Crockett coach Cody Connell said. “But I would never take any credit away from D-B. Both teams played great.”
Senior Donta Hackler scored 21 points against the Indians. He hit five 3-pointers against Tennessee High.
“I think he had 24, 21 and 21 in the three (district) games,” Connell said. “Donta has really stepped up. He was locked in and ready for all three games. It’s like, ‘Man, just give him the basketball.’ The player he’s become over the past three months, it’s just unbelievable. It’s been fun to watch.”
Junior Mason Britton and sophomore Dawson Wagner each scored 16 points in the D-B game. Senior Mack Hensley (19), Britton (13) and Eric Dunbar (10) each scored in double figures against Tennessee High.
Junior Emma Gouge tallied 13 points and 15 rebounds in the Pioneers’ region-clinching 46-45 win against Volunteer. She also had to bring the ball up the court quite a bit due to foul trouble.
“Emma’s a gamer,” Connell said. “She wants to win more than anybody. We had a lot of girls step up and score the basketball (in the tournament) … and defensively we played great all three ballgames.”
Crockett lost 69-38 to Science Hill in the semifinals and fell 51-36 to Dobyns-Bennett in the consolation game. Emily Trivette scored 13 points against Science Hill and Mackenzie Baldwin and Gouge tallied 12 and 11, respectively, against the Indians.
The Daniel Boone boys season ended with a 64-58 loss to Tennessee High on Tuesday. Former David Crockett player McHale Bright scored 19 points to lead the Vikings.
Seniors Cade Norris and Jared Atkins scored 16 and 15 points, respectively for Boone. Chase McGonigle (12) and Colby Backus (11) also scored in double figures in their final game.