When the Cleveland High School Lady Blue Raiders made the trek across the river to Rhea County High School on Friday for a quarterfinal region basketball tournament game, little did they know they were traveling to the land of 3-pointers, where it seemed to rain treys all night long for the Rhea County High School Lady Eagles.
Six Lady Eagles combined to hit 14 three-pointers to significantly put a damper on Cleveland’s plan of advancing to the region semifinal round, as Rhea claimed a 62-40 win and closed out the Lady Blue Raiders’ season with an overall record of 20-12.
Hitting treys for the Lady Eagles were Maddie Taylor (3), Haley Cameron (3), Macy Welch (3), Emma Gentry (2), Mallory Hampton (2) and Hayla Patton (1).
Cleveland took the early lead in the first quarter and was on top 7-0 with 5:04 left in the first quarter. Lady Eagle head coach, Tracy Vest, immediately called a timeout to regroup.
The Rhea girls quickly responded, as they cut the Cleveland lead and eventually tied the Lady Raiders with point contributions from Cameron (8), Taylor (3), Welch (3) and Hampton (1).
Tied at 14 at the start of the second, the Lady Eagles poured in four treys and a basket to outscore Cleveland 14-6 and go on top 28-20 at the half.
Rhea won the third quarter battle 24-13 to widen its lead, as the Lady Eagles carried a 52-33 advantage headed to the final period.
Rhea edged the Lady Blue Raiders 10-7 in the fourth, to claim the region quarterfinal tournament victory, and advance. The Lady Eagles’ largest lead of the game was 24 points, which came at the 1:12 mark in the fourth quarter.
Coach Vest praised his team’s defensive effort on the win to advance, expressed being proud of the seniors, and credited the game as one of the Lady Eagles’ best defensive game of the season.
“This win feels great. It’s so great for these seniors to come out here on their home floor and play the way they did,” said Vest. “I’m extremely proud of our defense. Our first four minutes tonight, we were kind of jittery and I didn’t think we played very well. I think our nerves calmed down a little bit, and our defense from then on, was spot on.
“They stuck with the game plan, and I’m proud of the way they played, and they shot the ball really well too,” added Vest. “We had some people to make some shots tonight that we’ve been wanting them to make all along. Macy Welch and Maddie Taylor stepped up, and as a whole unit, our defense may have played one the best games we’ve played all year, so I’m just very proud of them for that.”
The Lady Eagles improved to 24-5 on the season, as they will face the Bradley Central Bearettes (26-3), the defending AAA state champions, in the Region 3-AAA semifinal round on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. EST. Check The Herald-News’ Facebook page for score updates. The game will be held at the host site of the region tournament, White County High School.
RHEA (62) – Cameron 20, Taylor 11, Welch 11, Hampton 9, Gentry 6, Patton 3, Maddie Smith 2
CLEVELAND (40) – Bailey Anderson 15, Kara Williams 11, Mariyah Person 7, Addison Hurst 3, Alexia Jackson 2, Katie Moore 2