SEVIERVILLE—Sevier County’s girls have added the District Two AAA Tournament championship to their trophy case after a hard-earned 47-35 victory over Jefferson County Saturday night in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.
Jefferson County used free throws to stay in the game through three quarters and trailed by only two going into the final eight minutes. The Bearettes then used the same weapon to close out the victory.
It was still a two-point game at 34-32 after a free toss by Alexa Gramman for the Lady Patriots with 2:49 left. From that point, Sevier County cashed in 13 of 14 free throws to pull steadily away as Jefferson County turned the ball over and fouled.
Amanda Clabo didn’t hit a basket but still led Sevier County with 13 points. She made 7 of 8 in the final 2:35.
No other Bearette scored more than six.
Gramman led all scorers with 14 and Kali McMahan added eight for the cold-shooting Lady Patriots.
Sevier County, which also won the title in 2019 and lost in the final to the Lady Patriots last season, will now play host to Volunteer on Friday in the first round of the regional. The 10th-ranked Bearettes improved to 27-4.
The Lady Patriots, now 14-14, will also be at home on Friday, playing host to Dobyns-Bennett. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.
Neither team found the basket with any regularity. The Bearettes hit 9 of 36 for 25 percent and were 4 of 10 from three-point range. Jefferson County was 8 of 38 for 21.1 percent and missed all seven of its three-point tries.
The Bearettes finished 25 of 32 at the free throw line with 18 of those in the fourth quarter. Jefferson County was 19 of 25. With McMahan leading the way with 11, the Lady Patriots had a 37-31 rebounding advantage.
Lady Patriots coach Jeremy Byrd said, “We turned the ball over way too many times tonight. You can’t turn the ball over 26 times in the championship game and have a chance to win.
“That limited our shots and we didn’t shoot it very well either,” he said. “I thought we had a good game plan and we executed our defensive plan pretty well.
“We played good defense and stayed in it,” he added. “But they got the lead late and when we had to foul they made the free throws.”
Byrd closed, “Now we have to get over a tough loss and get ready for the region next week.”
The home team jumped out to a 7-2 lead with just over three minutes left in the first quarter, but Gramman made the Lady Patriots’ first basket with 1:09 on the clock then added two free throws and it was a one-point game at the first stop.
Another pair of charity tosses by Gramman gave the Lady Patriots their first lead early in the second stanza. After Clabo hit two free throws for the Bearettes, McMahan scored inside and Gramman grabbed a rebound and put it back in for a 12-9 lead.
Shelby Smith made a free throw for Sevier but Makenzie Alvey sank a couple to give the Lady Patriots their biggest lead at 14-10 with 2:18 left in the half.
However, the Bearettes got two foul tosses from Emma Fowler and two more from Clabo before Hailey Williams’ only basket of the night put them ahead 16-14.
Zoie Denton hit a free throw for the visitors but Natali Shultz knocked down a three and Sevier County led 19-15 at intermission. The Bearettes hit 5 of 21 in the first half and the Lady Patriots managed just 3 of 16.
A basket by McMahan and another by Emily Beth Johnston tied it early in the fourth quarter but the Bearettes scored four straight and never trailed again.
Alvey hit a free throw and Denton added a pair to make it a one-point game but Clabo made one charity toss and it was 30-28 after three quarters.
Shilah Whaley scored first in the fourth period then hit a free throw as did McKenna Loveday for a 34-28 lead. Gramman hit a free toss and Alvey added three more to make it 34-32 and set the stage for Clabo’s free throw parade.
She made two tosses each with 2:35, 2:20 and 1:55 on the clock and it was an eight-point game. Gramman scored for the Lady Patriots with 1:46 to go before Clabo hit one of two and then Kinley and McKenna Loveday made two each before Shultz closed it out with two more.
Gramman scored the final point.
Trophy presentations followed the game along with announcing the all-conference team.
First Team: Maci Pitner, Seymour, Player of the Year; Gramman, Jefferson County; Mackenna Loveday and Amanda Clabo, Sevier County; Sable Burnside, Morristown East.
Second Team: Sydney Clevenger and Paige Neithammer, Cocke County; McMahan, Jefferson County; Terryauna Griffin, South-Doyle; Nina Lovelace, Morristown West.
COACH OF YEAR: Jonathan Shultz, Sevier County.