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Lady Chiefs' season ends in Region 3-AA first round after Tyner's comeback

Staff Photo by Gabriel Garcia
Sequoyah senior Kassidi Freeman puts up a shot in the Lady Chiefs’ Region 3-AA Tournament loss to Tyner Academy Friday at the Chop House. Freeman played her last game for Sequoyah.
Published: 10:57 AM, 02/26/2013 Last updated: 1:48 PM, 04/11/2013

Author: Gabriel Garcia
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

MADISONVILLE - The buzzer sounded, and other than the Tyner Academy girls' basketball team and a few partisans celebrating in one corner, the Chop House stood in stunned silence.

The Sequoyah girls walked off to their locker room, pondering how a season of unprecedented success ended Friday in a 36-29 home loss in the opener of the Region 3-AA Tournament to a team that is now only 11-16.

"I hate it for the girls," said Lady Chiefs coach Eddie Gambrell. "The girls put in a lot of work since June. They accomplished a lot, broke the school record for wins this year. They’re hurting. They wanted more. We all wanted more. But when it came down to it, we could not score."

Equally stunning is how it happened. The Lady Chiefs, who finished their season 20-9, held an 18-8 advantage at halftime and had stretched the margin to 23-11 with around five minutes left in the third quarter after a Savanna Atchley 3-pointer.

A trey on the other end by the Lady Rams' leading scorer, DeKesha Parks, didn’t seem at first to be the start of the game-turning run for the visitors from the Chattanooga school, the pace of the game as slow as it was. After another Parks bucket, Laura Whited answered with a jumper to push Sequoyah’s margin back to nine, at 25-16.

Those were the last points the Lady Chiefs scored until less than four minutes left in the game.

"The coaching staff got together and talked about it," said Tyner coach Latwanya Arnwine, whose team finished third in the District 6-AA tournament. "We saw what we were doing wrong, stuff that we had been over in practice, and we actually had to come out here and execute it, and that’s what happened.

"Everyone knows that when it’s tournament time, it’s your second season."

And Tyner really picked up its second wind in the last minute of the third quarter. Delvay Hines dropped in a layup in the post, then Mia Smith jumped in front of a telegraphed Sequoyah outlet pass and took the steal to the rim. All of a sudden Tyner was down only 25-20 entering the fourth.

The Lady Rams weren't exactly in any hurry to score in the fourth quarter. But with the Lady Chiefs unable to take care of the ball - to the tune of seven turnovers in the last eight minutes - and unable to hit the layups and short jumpers they were able to get off, Tyner didn't have to hurry.

"We kind of lost our composure there, especially in the fourth quarter," Gambrell said.

Porchia Turner's wide-open bucket in the lane with five minutes left was only Tyner's third field goal of the fourth quarter, but it was enough to put the Lady Rams ahead for good at 26-25. About a minute later, Smith extended Tyner's lead to 28-25.

A jump shot from the wing by Kassidi Freeman - after some messy halfcourt offense - momentarily cut the Lady Chiefs' deficit back to one. But after Tyner got possession on a tie-up and took a timeout, Smith sank a floater to return the margin to three.

Hunter Simpson - whose 10 second-quarter points from drives into the paint had built Sequoyah the lead it eventually surrendered - briefly remembered her key to success on the answering bucket, slicing to the hoop for a layup in traffic to again cut the Lady Chiefs' deficit to one.

After Parks hit one out of her two foul shots, Atchley missed the layup on the transition that could've tied the game. Instead the Lady Chiefs were forced to foul and send the Lady Rams to the line.

Tyner went 1-of-2 its next two trips to the charity stripe, but Sequoyah surrendered the offensive rebound on both misses and were again forced to foul. The Lady Rams hit just enough of their last free throws to seal the upset.

"You’ve got to give credit to Tyner. They were aggressive all game long and they turned it up a little more in the fourth," Gambrell said. "They outhustled us for rebounds here and there and got second chances off hustle plays."

Sequoyah appears primed to have another strong campaign next year after it regroups from Friday’s heartbreaker. While seniors Freeman - a defensive presence her whole career - and Danielle Slack are gone, everyone else, including Simpson, return.

"My first priority is getting them through this, then refocusing our program for next year," Gambrell said.


T    6    2    12    16    -    36
S    6    12    7    4    -    29

TYNER: Porchia Turner 6, Juanita Montgomery 4, Mia Smith 8, Brittany McElvain 1, DeKesha Parks 11, Del-Vay Hines 6
SEQUOYAH: Hunter Simpson 14, Danielle Slack 2, Savanna Atchley 5, Kassidi Freeman 2, Chancy Welshan 4, Laura Whited 2

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