By Maurice Patton
MURFREESBORO – Katie Burdette admitted she was “extremely stressed” when she went to the foul line with 16.4 seconds remaining in overtime of Summertown’s quarterfinal matchup with Clarkrange in the TSSAA Class A girls basketball state tournament Wednesday.
Not only was the junior post looking to extend the Lady Eagles’ one-point lead – she was also looking for her first points of the game.
“We weren’t getting to the rim enough, and when we did, they were getting hands on the ball,” Burdette said regarding her lack of offensive production throughout the contest.
When she got her chances, though, she made them count, posting Summertown’s final two points in a 37-34 win that sends the state’s second-ranked team to a Friday semifinal contest against North Greene.
“Everybody else was going up and shooting. I knew I needed to knock them down,” Burdette said. “I took a deep breath and tried to knock ’em down.”
The Lady Eagles (28-3) managed to win despite shooting just 9-for-40 from the floor (4-18 3-pointers) against Clarkrange, the No. 4 team in the final Associated Press Class A statewide regular-season poll.
And for third-year coach Catie Embrey, the clash between two of the top four teams in the rankings was less than ideal.
“It was a little frustrating for us,” she said. “Any time you draw their name, there’s a little apprehension. But I think my girls were like, ‘we’re really good too’.
“I think it put a little of a chip on our shoulder. We compete.”
The Lady Buffaloes (27-6) controlled the game early, leading 13-5 midway through the first quarter, but Summertown managed to stay close behind its defensive effort. At the same time, the Lady Eagles were never able to put any distance between themselves and the eight-time state titlists.
“We knew they were a ‘defensive’ team, that they were going to double-team everything, that every rebound you get, you weren’t safe with the ball,” Burdette said. “I don’t think we knew how to handle that.”
Limiting Clarkrange down the stretch and hitting just enough free throws in the fourth quarter, Summertown forced a 31-31 deadlock with 4:08 left in regulation – and neither team scored the rest of the way.
“We didn’t have the best offensive game,” Kassie Monday said after scoring a game-high 16 points for Clarkrange. “We had to let the game come to us. Toward the end, we weren’t knocking down shots like we normally do. But we gave our all on the court.”
Jenna Brazier and Rylee Long (11 points) each connected on a pair of foul shots to open the extra period and give Summertown a 35-31 lead, but the Lady Buffaloes stayed close on Kaylie Monday’s 3 with 1:11 to play.
After trading empty possessions, Kassie Monday fouled Burdette after the two of them pursued a rebound. It was Monday’s fifth, and Burdette virtually sealed the deal by converting twice.
“I believed in her,” Kaley Campbell said of Burdette, who had nine rebounds and six blocked shots for the game. “I thought it was her time to step up. She’s one of the best free throw shooters on the team, and I thought it was time for her to step up.”
Following a timeout, Kaylie Monday’s game-tying trey was off and Hailey Jones – who went 5-for-11 from the line – snared the rebound as time expired.
With that, Embrey took a ‘survive and advance’ view of the outcome and the rest of the tourney.
“There’s a little pressure playing here, wanting to perform. I think we pressed a little, she said. “But – let’s get in the environment, get a game under our belts and settle in.”
“We knew this was going to be a close game,” Burdette said. “The nerves are out. I think we’ll be better Friday.”
The Lady Eagles return to action in Friday’s 11:30 a.m. semifinal against North Greene, which stunned top-ranked Gibson County 43-40 in other Wednesday quarterfinal play.
Summertown girls 37, Clarkrange 34 (OT)
S 8 8 11 4 6 – 37
C 15 4 11 1 3 – 34
Summertown (37) – Jenna Brazier 5, Kaley Campbell 9, Hailey Jones 7, Katie Burdette 2, Rylee Long 11, Ansley Burleson 3
Clarkrange (34) – Kassie Monday 16, Lexie Pierce 6, Mattie Bush 2, Kaylie Monday 5, Chloe Howard 5
3-pointers – Summertown 4 (Brazier, Campbell, Long, Burleson), Clarkrange 5 (Ks. Monday, Pierce 2, Ky. Monday, Howard)
Photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports