By Maurice Patton
SUMMERTOWN — Closer than the previous two meetings, Wednesday’s matchup between Summertown and Loretto nevertheless yielded the same result, as the banged-up host Lady Eagles built an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and claimed the Region 6-A title with a 60-56 victory.
With sophomore guard Ansley Burleson sidelined by a knee injury and junior post Katie Burdette slowed by a high ankle sprain, Summertown’s rotation was shortened a bit. However, the senior quartet of Kaley Campbell, Rylee Long, Hailey Jones and Jenna Brazier accounted for all but eight of the team’s points in the triumph.
“I feel like these seniors are just going to lead and drag us all, so we’d better get on board,” third-year coach Catie Embrey said after the Lady Eagles improved to 26-3 and extended their win streak to 17 games – a streak that includes a 57-48 homecourt victory over the Lady Mustangs on Jan. 19 and a 61-46 win at Loretto on Feb. 5.
“I’m crazy proud of this group.”
Loretto (17-7) asserted itself offensively from the start, matching Summertown’s three first-quarter 3-pointers and forcing an 18-all deadlock through the end of the opening period. Karly Weathers’ second trey of the second quarter put the visitors ahead 25-20 with 5½ minutes to go before intermission, but Summertown answered with an 11-3 run – interrupted only by Weathers’ fourth 3-pointer of the half – to take a 31-28 lead to the locker room.
“We had a crucial turnover there and they got four quick points (to end the half). They had the momentum,” Loretto coach Ashley Rutledge said.
“That got our ‘mojo’ going,” she said. “Hailey came up with a big steal and layup (with two seconds left) and that got us excited. We went into the half with confidence.”
Any opportunity for the Lady Mustangs to get the momentum back slipped away as Summertown pulled away from a 35-all deadlock three minutes into the third period – holding Loretto scoreless for the remainder of the quarter and scoring eight straight points, before Jenna Brazier scored in transition to open the fourth quarter and make it a 45-35 game.
“In the third quarter, our offense got stagnant,” Rutledge said. “We didn’t get in the flow offensively.”
Leading 54-43 with 3:27 to play following a pair of Jones free throws, Summertown went 6-for-9 from the foul line the rest of the way – just enough to hold off Loretto’s late charge.
“We couldn’t lay off at that point,” said Campbell, who finished with 22 points and was named the region tournament’s most valuable player. “We had to keep going, just because of the team they are. No matter what happened in the last two games, they battled. We had some players step up, because of so many injuries we’ve had the last two weeks.”
Jones and Long scored 13 points each for Summertown. Weathers scored a game-high 24 points for Loretto, with Julie Clifton and Madelyn Tidwell each adding 11.
Summertown will face visiting Jo Byrns in Saturday’s Class A sectional, with Loretto traveling to Houston County.
“In a two-possession game, we’re thinking about turnovers, missed free throws, defensive adjustments,” Rutledge said. “I have all the confidence in the world my team can beat anybody in Class A.”
Summertown girls 60, Loretto 56
L 18 10 7 21 – 56
S 18 13 12 17 – 60
Loretto (56) – Jenny Clifton 3, Julie Clifton 11, Madelyn Tidwell 11, Autumn Buttrum 2, Karly Weathers 24, Kensey Weathers 3, Shelby Fisher 2
Summertown (60) – Kaley Campbell 22, Jenna Brazier 4, Hailey Jones 13, Rylee Long 13, Katie Burdette 4, Reese Wilson 4
3-pointers – Loretto 10 (Je. Clifton, Ju. Clifton 3, Tidwell 2, Ka. Weathers 4), Summertown 4 (Campbell, Brazier, Long 2)
All-region – Autumn Buttrum, Kensey Weathers, Karly Weathers (Loretto); Hailey Jones, Katie Burdette, Jenna Brazier (Summertown); MVP – Kaley Campbell (Summertown)
Photos by Vanessa Beach / SM-Tn Sports