In Friday’s semifinals, the top-seeded Lady Trailblazers dispatched fourth-seeded Sullivan Central 55-38 in the first game of the day and the No. 2 seed Lady Hilltoppers rallied past No. 3 Dobyns-Bennett 51-50 in the other girls semifinal.
Host and top seed Science Hill whipped No. 4 David Crockett 71-49 in the first boys semifinal. In the final game of the night, third-seeded Boone advanced to its first district tournament final since 2010 with a 52-40 win over No. 2 D-B.
Today’s action starts at 3 p.m. with the girls’ consolation between D-B (15-16) and Central (19-12) followed by the boys’ consolation with D-B (11-16) facing Crockett (17-13). Science Hill (25-4) faces Boone (26-4) in the girls’ championship at 6 p.m. followed by the boys’ game between the ’Blazers (17-12) and the Hilltoppers (22-9).
D-B’s boys, coming off a week’s layoff since their final regular-season contest, jumped out to a 10-2 lead on Boone. But the ’Blazers closed the first half on a 17-4 run to take a five-point advantage to the locker room.
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“I was concerned about our long layoff,” said Tribe coach Charlie Morgan. “We got off to a decent start, but then it seems like we hit a wall. We were standing around on offense and a couple of times they got their own missed shots. We just didn’t have any fire.”
Boone garnered a pair of nine-point leads in the third quarter before Marae Foreman knocked down consecutive 3-pointers and Hayden Cassell tallied five straight to tie the contest at 29.
But the Tribe had no answer for Boone’s Chad Heglar, who scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Boone backcourt mate Eric Rigbsy, who scored 31 against the Indians a couple of weeks ago, finished with nine points and three assists. Point guard Jayden Stevens dished out four assists to go with five points, and Evan Scanlan hauled down 14 rebounds and tossed in seven points.
“Boone has very good guards and our zone wasn’t clicking for us,” Morgan added. “It seemed like they wanted it a little bit more than we did.”
Cassell finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Riamello Wadsworth added eight points with Foreman and Zack Griffin notching six each.
The Lady Indians saw a 13-point third-quarter lead slip away against the Lady ’Toppers. Science Hill connected on four straight 3-pointers in turning a 36-23 deficit into a 37-36 lead.
“They (Science Hill) always have that one opportunities run in every game,” said D-B coach Bill Francis. “Unfortunately, tonight it was late in the third quarter.”
Science Hill eventually led late by six, 48-42, but had to withstand a furious Tribe rally down the stretch that culminated with two Courtney Whitson technical free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining to pull D-B within a single point at 51-50. But out of timeouts, the inbounds play from midcourt was mistimed, allowing Science Hill to escape.
“We could have folded our tents when we got down six but we showed some character and had an opportunity at the end,” Francis said. “I’m proud of them for that.”
Whitson poured in 29 of D-B’s 50 points and scored all but three of the Lady Indians’ second-half points.
“Courtney is amazing,” Francis said. “But that’s what you want in a situation like that from your best player. That’s why she’s all-state.”
Boone’s girls fought off the game Lady Cougars with a 19-8 run in the fourth quarter. Trailing by just six, Central twice had opportunities to cut into the margin but came away empty-handed despite good looks on both occasions.
“Central played really well,” said Lady Trailblazers coach Travis Mains. “Those girls (Meg and Abbey Crawford) inside are tough and they made some good adjustments against our press.”
Boone junior point guard Macie Culbertson did not start because of illness, but the Lady ’Blazers got splendid efforts from Montana Riddle and Sydney Pearce. Both finished with 13 points and Pearce collected 10 rebounds for her double-double. Makenzey Bennett stepped in for Culbertson initially at point guard and scored four points and dished out four assists. Culbertson gutted out an 11-point, four-rebound, three-assist effort.
“I didn’t even think Macie could play,” Mains said. “I thought Sydney (Pearce) and Montana (Riddle) got us off to a good start. Sydney likes playing against their bigs; they aren’t so much up underneath her. And having Makenzey (Bennett), who is so versatile, is such a luxury.
“We have a lot of good kids, good unselfish kids.”
Central got eight points each from Sara Madgett and Taylor Sanders and seven from Sydney Hurd.
Science Hill had no problem with rival Crockett in the other boys semifinal. David Bryant led the Hilltoppers with 13 points, Colby Martin pumped in a dozen and Holden Hensley 10.
Crockett’s Josh Releford led all scorers with 28 points. Releford drilled 16 of 18 foul shots and sank half of the Pioneers’ 10 field goals in the game.