FARRAGUT — They had never played in a state sectional before but it didn’t show. Jefferson County fought and battled toe-to-toe with Farragut for the entire 32 minutes of the Class AAA Sectional at Farragut High School, but when it was over the Lady Patriots were the team charging the court in celebration.
The Lady Patriots will go to their first Class AAA State Tournament in more than 30 years after a 42-40 win over Farragut Saturday night.
“I’m just really proud,” Jefferson County coach Rick Sinard said. “They battled so hard and they got it done. They beat a good ball team tonight. We got inside and made some big shots outside. I’m just so happy for them. People don’t know the hard work they’ve put into this, all 17 of them. They practice and practice and they’re all a big part of our basketball team.”
That basketball team was ranked No. 10 in the state coming into Saturday night’s game. The Lady Admirals (28-3) fought tooth and nail to keep their season alive, but in the end fell one turnover and just a few seconds short.
Farragut had the biggest lead of the game, five with about three minutes to go after forcing three straight Jefferson County turnovers.
But it was two big threes, the first from Makaila Woolard, who was just cleared from a concussion Friday morning, to pull it back within two. The Lady Admirals got a free throw from Anna Woodford to go back up three, but Jefferson County’s Autumn Dodson, fresh off the bench, put in a three from the right wing to tie the game at 40 with fewer than two minutes to go.
“They came in here and were on a mission,” Farragut coach Jason Mayfield said. “We got a little breathing room right there and they made some big shots. We were playing good defense on her (Dodson) and she makes it. They just finished it off.”
Still, Farragut had the ball and plenty of time. Working the ball down court, a poorly-timed pass sent the ball out of bounds and put it back in Jefferson County’s hands.
“It was completely my fault,” Mayfield said. “I was trying to yell ‘timeout’ and I should have done it way earlier. It was big. I felt we could have held it for a good shot, but that’s part of it.”
With 1:30 left on the clock, the Lady Patriots held the ball until the final nine seconds when Griffin drove the lane behind Woolard, a play that had worked to great effect most of the game. Griffin was fouled and sent to the line.
“When he called timeout, I said that we’re going to do what’s got us here all year, our bread-and-butter,” Sinard said. “We held it and protected the ball and what about Tori? She made two big free throws.”
Woolard led Jefferson County with 13 points. Farragut got 10 points apiece from Rebecca Jameson and Madison Maples.
-By Adam Greene, Tribune Correspondent