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Next stop: Murphy Center

By J.P. Plant

SUMMERTOWN — In what could have been the final game ever at Summertown’s historic gym as a Class A school, the Lady Eagles certainly went out on a high note soaring to an 85-62 sectional win Saturday night over Jo Byrns. 

This marks the fourth time in five years this team will be dancing at Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University — but just the second time advancing off its home floor.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Hailey Jones said. “As a senior it’s exactly where you want to be — with the whole town behind you in this environment.”

Coaching in a home sectional matchup was a bucket list item for Lady Eagles coach Catie Embrey — something she can now check off.

“It was everything I hoped it would be,” Embrey said with a big smile on her face. “For these seniors to be able to run out onto this court one last time — it meant everything to me and to them.

“I was a little emotional before the game. We all knew we had just one more. It’s been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster today.”

Those pregame emotions were quickly channeled into 3-pointers as the hosts knocked down 11 in the game, including five in the first quarter. Jo Byrns went toe-to-toe with Summertown in that opening frame even holding a lead at 18-17 before three 3s ended the quarter — one each by Ansley Burleson, Kaley Campbell and Karlie Campbell giving the Lady Eagles a 26-19 edge at the end of the quarter. 

Summertown outscored the Lady Red Devils 19-11 in the second primarily trading 2s for 3s hitting four more from behind the arc taking a 45-30 halftime lead. Jo Byrns never got any closer as Summertown’s lead ballooned to 27 at 72-45 midway through the fourth.

“We shared the basketball so well tonight,” Embrey said after the game. “We were able to put the players in the right spot and then able to find them for the easy baskets. (Katie) Burdette was huge tonight especially guarding their 6-3 post player. Hailey saw that Rylee (Long) was shooting it well so she kicked Rylee to the perimeter and she went to the post and was able to take it to the basket. They just know each other so well and have so much chemistry together.”

“We had a lot of injuries this past week but we just kept pushing through it and worked really well together tonight,” said Jones while watching her team cut down the nets following the game.

“I think the key tonight was to just trust everyone on the floor,” senior point guard Jenna Brazier said. “All the seniors know each other’s game and really play well off of each other.”

Brazier and Kaley Campbell were contributing members as eighth-graders on the 2016-17 team that defeated sectional foe Moore County in Lynchburg.

“It feels like we deserved it a little more this time but still as exciting as it was when I was in eighth grade,” Brazier said.

With 23 points, Kaley Campbell four Summertown double-digit scorers while Jo Byrns’ Brooke Dowlen finished with a game-high 25 points; her teammate Grayson Bryant added 20 in the loss. 

The season ends for the Lady Red Devils with an 18-5 record. Summertown improves to 27-3 and will face Clarkrange — a 72-37 sectional winner over Fayetteville — at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Class A state quarterfinals at Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

Summertown is slated to compete next season in District 10-AA, along with Loretto, Mt. Pleasant, Giles County and Lewis County.

Despite the 23-point win Coach Embrey still has some coaching points to keep her team engaged.

“We don’t give up this many points usually,” she said. “Hats off to Jo Byrns as they played really well — better than we anticipated. We were just able to do what we needed to do to get the win.”

That “foot-on-the-gas” mentality keeps her team driven as they advance further towards a state championship.

“We’re just going to focus on whoever they put in front us. Next one up — that’s our focus.”

County sweep: With Loretto’s 60-32 sectional victory Saturday at Houston County, District 12-A will send both its champion and runner-up to the upcoming state tournament. Karly Weathers scored a game-high 27 points for the Lady Mustangs (18-7), who scored 23 points in the second period to take a 36-19 halftime lead.

Houston County (22-3), which had a nine-game winning streak snapped with the homecourt loss, was led offensively by Hailey Hibbeler with 16 points.

Loretto will face Cloudland, which defeated Oneida 50-46 Saturday night, in an 11:30 a.m. state quarterfinal clash Wednesday at MTSU.

Summertown girls 85, Jo Byrns 62

JB 19 11 15 17 — 62
ST 26 19 17 23 — 85

Jo Byrns (62) — Ashlen Bryant 6, Grayson Bryant 20, Brooke Dowlen 25, Reese Payne 8, Millie Parham 3
Summertown (85) — Kaley Campbell 23, Hailey Jones 16, Rylee Long 17, Katie Burdette 14, Ansley Burleson 3, Reese Wilson 4, Karlie Campbell 6, Braley Burleson 2
3-pointers — Jo Byrns 6 (G. Bryant 3, Dowlen 3), Summertown 11 (Kl. Campbell 5, Long 3, A. Burleson, Kr. Campbell 2)

Loretto girls 60, Houston Co. 32

L 13 23 8 16 — 60
H 12 7 10 3 — 32

Loretto (60) — Jenny Clifton 5, Julie Clifton 2, Madelyn Tidwell 11, Autumn Buttrum 2, Karly Weathers 27, Carlie Urban 1, Kensey Weathers 6, Shelby Fisher 5, Emily Cozart 1
Houston Co. (32) — Hailey Hibbeler 16, Josey Gant 2, Tess Gillespie 3, Karlie Stinson 6, Hannah McDonough 5
3-pointers — Loretto 5 (Je. Clifton, Tidwell 2, Ka. Weathers 2), Houston Co. 3 (Hibbeler 2, Gillespie)

Road Raiders reach peak of Region 5-A

By Chris Yow

CEDAR HILL — Establishing an inside presence early and knocking down free throws was the recipe for success on Thursday for Richland, as the Raiders earned the Region 5-A championship with a 51-40 win at Jo Byrns.

“I really don’t want to talk about (making free throws) because I feel like you’re jinxing us,” Richland coach Jason Loveless said with a laugh postgame. “In all honesty, we have felt really comfortable when we have a lead in the fourth quarter to make (opponents) come out and guard us.

“Those are seniors stepping to the line and getting it done.”

Richland (25-1) converted 10 of its final 12 attempts from the line in the fourth quarter and went 13-for-18 for the game. Jo Byrns did not attempt a free throw in the game.

Senior post player Stevie Ballinger dropped in six of the Raiders’ first nine points of the game, forcing the hosts to adjust to the size advantage he held under the bucket. With Ballinger drawing attention, his classmates made the Red Devils pay.

Daniel Nicholson poured in a team-high 17 points for Richland and Logan Helton added 15.

The Raiders forced six first-half turnovers, and 10 for the game, and built a 10-point lead in the first half before the hosts battled back. Jo Byrns (17-4) ended the first half on an 8-2 run that saw a pair of 3-pointers go in.

The Red Devils then cut the lead to 27-25 coming out the break on the first possession with a bucket from Jayden Caira. The senior guard finished with a game-high 19 points as the only player in double figures for Jo Byrns.

Ballinger answered on the other end for the Raiders, and by the end of the third quarter — on the heels of a buzzer-beating trey from sophomore Jase Derryberry — the visitors were ahead 39-30.

Jo Byrns wasn’t going to go away easily in the region championship, as a raucous crowd cheered on the home team. Logan Head got a bucket that was answered by Nicholson, but Caira scored five straight to cut the lead to 41-37.

That was as close as the game would get, however, as Richland played keepaway and knocked down those critical free throws — the final six from Helton — to ice it.

“We’ve got great leadership on this team, and it starts with those seniors,” Loveless said. “Jackson Alsup and Daniel Nicholson are very much our vocal leaders, and you’ve got guys like (Helton) who steps up and does it with his play and his presence.”

Richland will host Loretto, which fell 56-41 at West Carroll in the Region 6-A finals, in a Monday night sectional matchup. Loveless said, however, he and his team will enjoy this one for now.

“We are going to enjoy this one. This is hard to do, and Jo Byrns is a good basketball team. We had to fight,” he said. “We’re only focused on the next 32 minutes. When we wake up (Friday) we will put our hats on and go to work.”

Richland boys 51, Jo Byrns 40

R 17 10 12 12 — 51
JB 13 10 7 10 — 40

Richland (51) — Logan Helton 15, Daniel Nicholson 17, Trey Luna 8, Stevie Ballinger 8, Jase Derryberry 3
Jo Byrns (40) — Taylor Head 6, Ryan Dowlen 8, Bryce Cox 3, Logan Head 2, Jayden Caira 19, Kenny Tolliver 2
3-pointers — Richland 4 (Luna 2, Helton, Derryberry), Jo Byrns 6 (Caira 3, Dowlen 2, Cox)

Photos by Chris Yow / SM-TN Sports

Monday on the hardwood

Jo Byrns girls 58, Richland 53

J – 12 21 10 14 — 58
R – 11 16 9 17 — 53

Jo Byrns (58) — Ashlen Bryant 8, Emilee Head 2, Grayson Bryant 11, Reese Payne 14, Brooke Dowlen 21, Millie Putnam 2
Richland (53) — Katie Garner 4, Jesse Jennings 33, Kristen Garner 4, Allie Garner 7
3-pointers — Jo Byrns 4 (Dowlen 4), Richland 1 (Jennings)

Houston Co. girls 56, Hampshire 33

H – 3 9 10 11 — 33
HC – 16 11 18 11 — 56

Hampshire (33) — Kortney Rowland 6, Ansley Stoner 1, Kayla Stephens 14, Kadence Stoner 4, Madison Cagle 2, Karlee Rowland 6
Houston County (56) — Hailey Hibbeler 13, Josey Gant 11, Karlie Stinson 10, Haylie Brooks 2, Holly Elliott 7, R’Shonte Kizer 2, Maddie Ross 5, Hannah McDonough 6
3-pointers — Hampshire 2 (Stephens 2), Houston Co. 3 (Stinson 2, Hibbeler)

Summertown girls72, Huntingdon 36

S – 18  23  27  4  — 72
H – 10  6    8   12 — 36

Huntingdon 36 — Addison Postlethwait 12, Ashlyn Rich 6, Shelby Childress 4, Lilly Kee 4, Brooke Butler 3, Kelby Crossno 3, Brooklyn Williams 2, Sophie Singleton 2
Summertown (72) — Kaley Campbell 25, Katie Burdette 12, Jenna Brazier 9, Hailey Jones 9, Reese Wilson 5, Karlie Campbell 4, Rylee Long 2, Emily Brazier 2, McKenzie Runnels 2, Chloe Heatherly 2
3-pointers — Huntingdon 3 (Postlethwait, Butler, Childress), Summertown 8 (Kaley Campbell 3, J Brazier 3, Jones 2)

Loretto girls 66, McKenzie 54

M – 11 6 20 17 — 54
L – 14 8 25 21 — 66

McKenzie (54) — Briley Auvenshine 2, Savannah Davis 19, Kylie Reynolds 11, Lilly Bennett 22
Loretoo (66) — Julie Clifton 8, Madelyn Tidwell 4, Autumn Buttram 9, Karly Weathers 18, Kensey Weathers 25, Shelby Fisher 2
3-pointers — McKenzie 5 (Davis 2, Bennett 2, Reynolds), Loretto 2 (Buttram, Ka. Weathers)

Oakland girls 51, Lawrence Co. 33

L – 8 13 8 4 — 33
O – 8 10 16 17 — 51

Lawrence Co. (33) — Carson Gobble 4, Katie Criswell 6, Madison Tidwell 8, Chloe Willis 7, Jacie Scott 2, Emmy Clark 5, Payton Morgan 1.
Oakland (51) — Nicole Egeruoh 2, Teriana Covington 8, Claira McGowen 13, Myah Sutton 6, Ni’Kiah Chesterfield 14, Beth Nelson 4, Destiny Newman 4
3-pointers — Lawrence Co. 1 (Willis), Oakland 7 (McGowen 3, Sutton 2, Covington, Newman)

Friday on the hardwood

Richland girls 51, East Robertson 41

ER – 11 6 10 14 — 41
R – 17 8 7 19 — 51

East Robertson (41) — Anna Hornberger 2, Mary Phelps 15, Peyton Lackey 3, Kylie Perry 2, Savannah Hinkle 16, Adrenn Cole 3
Richland (51) —Jesse Jennings 31, Kristen Garner 9, Allie Garner 7, Halle Braden 2, Shelby Higgins 2
3-pointers — East Robertson 1 (Phelps), Richland 2 (K. Garner)

Jo Byrns girls 54, Culleoka 40

C – 11 10 7 12 — 40
J – 12 17 14 11 — 54

Culleoka (40) — Tyler Reischman 6, Alex Skinner 5, Hannah Collins 3, Madison Ingram 1, Breanna Dickson 1, Maci McKennon 20, Kylie Thomas 2, Karlie Jones 2
Jo Byrns (54) — Ashton Bryant 10, Grayson Bryant 5, Brooke Dowlen 29, Emilee Head 2, Reese Payne 4, Milla Putnam 4
3-pointers — Culleoka 4 (McKennon 2, Reischman, Collins), Jo Byrns 4 (Dowlen 4)

Hampshire girls 66, McEwen 59

M 11 20 12 16 — 59
H 10 27 12 17 — 66

McEwen (57) — Dakota Hankins 6, Madison Hankins 14, Faith Coltson 16, Kellie Jo Hankins 3, Amberlee Hankins 13, Abby Harrington 2, Ashton Davidson 5
Hampshire (66) — Hailey Potts 1, Kortney Rowland 8, Ansley Stoner 13, Kayla Stephens 20, Kadence Stoner 10, Madison Cagle 3, Karlee Rowland 11
3-pointers — McEwen 7 (M. Hankins 4, K. Hankins, A. Hankins, Davidson), Hampshire 6 (A. Stoner 2, Stephens 3, Cagle)

Houston Co. girls 62, Santa Fe 33

SF 7 7 9 10 — 33
HC 20 10 18 14 — 62

Santa Fe (33) — Gracie Mills 6, Elise Adkison 5, Emmy Bates 12, Aniston Slaughter 5, Hattie Hedrick 3, Emily Hopkins 2
Houston Co. (62) — Hailey Hibbeler 8, Gracie Eaves 2, Josey Gant 11, Tess Gillespie 5, Karli Stinson 9, Haylie Brooks 4, Hollie Elliott 4, R’Shonte Kizer 5, Maddie Ross 2, Kennedy Jones 2, Hannah McDonough 10
3-pointers — Santa Fe 4 (Bates 4), Houston Co. 4 (Gant, Gillespie, Stinson, Brooks)

Summertown girls 99, Big Sandy 19

B 4 7 4 4 — 19
S 41 30 17 11 — 99

Big Sandy (19) — Ashlyn Berry 13, Kaylee Stockdale 3, Kaylyn Jackson 3
Summertown (99) — Kaley Campbell 23, Hailey Jones 12, Ansley Burleson 10, Mia Dinwiddie 9, Reese Wilson 9, Emily Brazier 8, Braley Burleson 6, Katie Burdette 6, Karlie Campbell 6, Rylee Long 5, Alivia Riggs 3, Carlee Emerson 2
3-pointers — Big Sandy 1 (Jackson), Summertown 11 (Kl. Campbell 4, Jones 2, A. Burleson 2, B. Burleson 2, Riggs)

Loretto girls 81, West Carroll 25

W 4 6 8 7 — 25
L 24 24 21 12 — 81

West Carroll (25) — Amaya Thompson 9, Skylar Jones 2, Mia Jones 5, Kelsey Jones 3, Kymbrianna Ross 2, Erin Norman 4
Loretto (81) — Jenny Clifton 5, Katelyn Robertson 2, Julie Clifton 1, Madelyn Tidwell 6, Autumn Buttrum 8, Karly Weathers 28, Carlee Urban 2, Kensey Weathers 12, Shelby Fisher 13, Emily Cozart 4
3-pointers — West Carroll 1 (Jones), Loretto 9 (Je. Clifton, Tidwell 2, Buttrum 2, Ka. Weathers 4)

Jo Byrns sweeps Santa Fe in non-district play

By Chris Yow

SANTA FE — The hole was just too deep for Santa Fe on Tuesday night, and despite a furious rally in a 29-point fourth quarter, Jo Byrns held on to get a 71-66 non-district road win over the Wildcats.

Every time Santa Fe (1-3) put together a couple of solid possessions to cut into the lead, the Red Devils (7-0) would pull away again. That was until a 14-point outburst from Andy Slaughter, who led all scorers with 38 points, in the final frame got the Wildcats to within four points before time finally ran out on his team.

“I was super happy with the effort in the second half,” Santa Fe coach Brad Slaughter said. “I was super unhappy in the first half. I told the guys at halftime that we have to stop spotting teams 15 points.”

Throughout much of the game, the Red Devils held a 15-point-or-better lead, thanks — in part — to an early momentum swing from an intentional foul call against the Wildcats.

Jo Byrns’ Logan Head went up for a layup and was fouled hard by Colton Steward. The basket went in, but the officials ruled Steward didn’t make an attempt at the ball and erroneously awarded Head the bonus free throw, plus two additional free throws, followed by the ball. The bonus free throw should not have been awarded, according to NFHS rules.

Bryce Cox added a bucket on the ensuing play, and quickly Santa Fe trailed by double digits.

“We’re still trying to find the right group to defend,” coach Slaughter said. “This is our fourth game, and this is our fourth different starting line up.

“We are trying to find the right chemistry.”

That chemistry didn’t expose itself in the first half, unfortunately for the Wildcats, as the Red Devils held a 40-23 lead at the break. Slaughter said his team’s weakness is apparent right now, and other teams are taking advantage of it.

“We don’t get back on defense,” he said. “That’s the scouting report on us, and you could see it on every rebound they were sending someone to the other end immediately.

“We either have to rebound better or get back on defense. That’s it.”

Following the stern halftime speech from their coach, the Wildcats held their opponent to just 10 points in the third quarter, and only 10 of the Red Devils’ fourth quarter points came from the field. They were 11-of-16 from the foul line to ice the game.

Even in defeat, the effort in the second half was enough the Wildcats earned their coach’s admiration.

“I told them win or lose, I’m going to be proud of them if they came out and gave better effort in the second half,” he said. “They did that; we just have to get better.”

Short-handed Lady Cats drop to 0-3: Playing without leading scorer Emmy Bates and key bench player Emily Hopkins, Santa Fe was no match for undefeated Jo Byrns on Tuesday. The Lady Devils earned a 67-25 road win over the hosts.

Jo Byrns jumped out to an early 10-1 lead, and led 14-1 before Jade Arnold hit a 3-pointer for the Lady Cats’ first field goal of the game with 2:41 to go in the first quarter.

The Lady Devils controlled the game throughout with their ability to play with the ball above the hands of Santa Fe defenders with 6-foot-2 center Reese Payne and 5-foot-11 guard Brooke Dowlen.

Santa Fe coach Jonathan Slaughter made no excuses for his team, but their entire season thus far has been a struggle to even get all of his players on the court at the same time. In fact, it’s only happened once.

“The only time we’ve had every player on our team at practice was the first practice of the season,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but we are just trying to take it as it comes and be happy that we’re getting to play at all.”

His team was on quarantine the last two weeks, and he said he found out earlier in the day on Tuesday he would be without Bates and Hopkins.

“We are trying to go out and do our best without putting too much focus on the scoreboard,” he said. “We just have to go out and give our best with whoever we’ve got on the floor.”

Jo Byrns boys 71, Santa Fe 66

JB 21 19 10 21 — 71
SF 11 12 14 29 — 66

Jo Byrns (71) — Jayden Caira 21, Logan Head 12, Bryce Cox 19, Kenny Tolliver 4, Ryan Dowlen 11, Jacob Miller 2, Taylor Head 2
Santa Fe (66) — Landon Evans 5, Logan Wilkins 13, Will Monhollen 2, Andy Slaughter 38, Josh Martin 8
3-pointers – Jo Byrns 3 (Cox 2, Dowlen), Santa Fe 8 (Slaughter 7, Martin)

Jo Byrns girls 67, Santa Fe 25

JB 25 20 16 6 — 67
SF 10 5 5 5 — 25

Jo Byrns (67) — Ashlen Bryant 8, Grayson Bryant 9, Brooke Dowlen 22, Emilie Head 7, Resse Payne 12, Noelle Lancaster 4, Caroline Reed 3, Paige Conquest 2
Santa Fe (25) — Gracie Mills 6, Elise Adkison 3, Hattie Headrick 5, Terralyn Pemberton 5, Jade Arnold 6
3-pointers — Jo Byrns 1 (G. Bryant), Santa Fe 3 (Arnold 2, Pemberton)

All Photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports