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Lions close regular season with sweep of Shelbyville

By Chris Yow

COLUMBIA — With a a top-four seed in the District 8-AAA tournament on the line, Columbia Central’s Lady Lions mounted a 12-point comeback to close their regular season with a 53-47 win over Shelbyville at home on Thursday.

Missing a pair of key players — Janiyha Riley and Jalei O’Neal — the Lady Lions were forced to rely on some players deep off the bench for crucial minutes. Columbia Central coach Joshua Bugg was proud of the effort his team received from those players.

“It’s exciting to see those girls step up to the challenge,” he said. “We’ve battled some injuries and the world’s been weird with COVID, but we’ve had some close losses. Tonight we fought over that hump.”

With the win, Central will now host Lincoln County on Tuesday night with a region berth on the line. That wouldn’t have been the case if not for a big run to start the second half. The Lady Lions took their first lead of the game with 3:08 to play in the third quarter during a 17-4 run.

Josie Parks hit her first of two 3-pointers in the period to jump start the Lady Lions, and Ryleigh Hamm added a pair of long balls as well for the hosts during that run. Shelbyville, however, battled back to regain the lead going to the fourth quarter.

Six quick points to start the fourth quarter was enough for the Lady Lions to put pressure on the Eaglettes, and they held their guests to just eight points in the quarter to pull away late.

Bugg said this win will hopefully propel his team to greater heights past the district tournament. If they can match their second-half effort from Thursday, the head coach feels confident those goals can be achieved.

“We have to come out and play with the effort and intensity we had in the second half tonight,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting knowing that if we win on Tuesday we get a chance to play in the region tournament.”

Columbia Central girls 53, Shelbyville 47

S 11 12 16 8 — 47
C 4 8 24 17 — 53

Shelbyville (47) — Lilly Brown 6, Kelsey Harden 7, Paige Blackburn 17, Kendall Dearing 11, Zoe Reed 6
Columbia Central (53) — Saviya Morgan 3, Ryleigh Hamm 15, Josie Parks 18, Kiyanna Edwards 7, Jenice Bailey 8, Emma Hughes 2
3-pointers — Shelbyville 2 (Dearing 2), Columbia Central 10 (Ham 5, Parks 3, Edwards 2)

Martin leads Lions to tough win over Eagles

Celebrating his 1,000th point, which he scored on Monday night at Lawrence County, Q Martin showed he may just be getting started.

The junior guard poured in a game-high 20 points as the Lions earned their 10th district win of the season, a 61-50 decision over Shelbyville.

Despite nine first-quarter points from Martin, however, the hosts found themselves trailing 15-14 after one. A pair of Cam Johnson treys later, the Lions regained the lead with 1:54 to go in the second quarter and would never relinquish it.

“Playing three games in four days, I thought we might come out a little sluggish,” coach Nick Campbell said. “I got after them a little bit at halftime, but they responded well.”

Carter Szydlowski’s putback just before halftime was a big lift for the hosts, who came out and pushed their three-point halftime lead to seven and held a six-point advantage after three.

Thanks in part to a near-perfect effort from the free throw line, the Lions were able to extend their lead late to seal the win. Columbia Central was 13-for-14 from the stripe, including 7-for-8 in the final frame.

Campbell was pleased with his team’s effort both on Thursday and throughout the season.

“It’s awesome to see where these guys have come from the last couple of years and how they’ve bought into what we’re trying to do,” he said. “I’m proud of them, they deserve all the credit.”

Columbia Central boys 61, Shelbyville 50

S 15 9 12 14 — 50
C 14 13 15 19 — 61

Shelbyville (50) — Jayson Jones 13, Daman Heath 8, Timothy Parsons 5, Jailain Anderson 17, Terrance Johnson 3, Kyler Trice 4
Columbia Central (61) — Cam Johnson 8, Demetrius McCoy 4, Carter Szydlowski 2, Q Martin 20, Omari Franklin 6, Bubba Perkins 7, Roni Bailey 4, Jordan Davis 10
3-pointers — Shelbyville 6 (Jones 3, Anderson 2, Parsons), Columbia Central 7 (Johnson 2, Franklin 2, Perkins)

Photos by Sarah Yow / SM-Tn Sports

Summertown completes season sweep of Lady Mustangs

By Chris Yow

LORETTO — Catie Embrey has waited three years to get her first win at Loretto.

On Friday night, her Summertown team wasted no time making the experience an enjoyable one as the Lady Eagles never trailed in a 61-46 win to secure the District 12-A regular season title.

“Considering in the three years I’ve been (at Summertown), we’ve never beaten them here — this feels great,” Embry said following the win. “I told this group of seniors who have been with me since I started that I wanted them to never have to come back to Loretto.”

With this win, that will now be the case. With district tournament games being played at the higher seed, Summertown will now have home-court advantage for the tournament.

Summertown jumped out to a commanding lead in the first quarter, but Loretto didn’t make matters a breeze. The Lady Mustangs went on a 10-0 run, and rather than call timeout, Embry said she had faith in her team to battle through.

“My husband (assistant coach Preston) told me to call timeout, and I said no,” Embry said. “I knew they could handle it. The trust I have in them is very high.”

Katie Burdette cashed in on that trust and went to the other end, got a bucket and a foul. The junior post player knocked down the free throw, sparking a 22-2 run, and Summertown never looked back.

During that run, 12 of the Eagles’ 22 points came from the free throw line. With deadly accuracy, Summertown made the Mustangs pay for sending them to the charity stripe, finishing the game 27-of-34 from the line.

“We’ve lost a lot of games over the last three years because of free throws. I think these seniors took it personally, and worked incredibly hard to make sure they got better,” Embrey said.

Senior forward Hailey Jones led the Eagles in scoring with 14 points, 10 of which came from the line.

Karly Weathers was deadly herself from the line, hitting 10-of-13 from the line en route to a game-high 29 points. In the third quarter, she had 10 of her team’s 13 points.

Embrey said this team is special.

“I am so proud of this group of girls and what they’ve accomplished,” she said. “We have a lot more left to do this season, though.”

Summertown 61, Loretto 46

S 16 10 22 13 — 61
L 6 11 13 16 — 46

Summertown (61) — Kaley Campbell 6, Jenna Brazier 7, Hailey Jones 14, Rylee Long 12, Katie Burdette 5, Ansley Burleson 11, Reese Wilson 4, Karlie Campbell 2
Loretto (46) — Jenny Clifton 1, Julie Clifton 4, Madelyn Tidwell 2, Autumn Buttram 2, Karly Weathers 29, Laney Weathers 2, Kensey Weathers 4, Shelby Fisher 2
3-pointers — Summertown 4 (Kal. Campbell, Brazier, Long, Burleson), Loretto 2 (Ju. Clifton, Ka. Weathers)

Photos by Sarah Yow / SM-Tn Sports

Eagles’ comeback falls short in overtime

By Chris Yow

LORETTO — Class A fifth-ranked Loretto forced five turnovers in overtime and converted on the offensive end each time to secure the District 12-A regular-season championship with a 64-53 win at home on Friday over sixth-ranked Summertown.

Despite a sluggish start and scoreless overtime period, Eagles’ coach Wes Long was encouraged by parts of his team’s performance — specifically the resilience to never quit.

“We could’ve gotten embarrassed tonight,” he said. “But our guys fought hard and we gave ourselves a chance to win.”

After taking an early 3-2 lead, the Eagles couldn’t buy a basket in the first quarter, and found themselves in a 20-3 hole to the hosts. 

“We can’t get into a hole like that against a team like Loretto,” Long said. “We’ve struggled at times this year coming out slow. Fortunately, we were able to dig out of it.”

Holding the shovel for the Eagles was Skyler Trousdale, who finally found the net with Summertown’s first 3-point basket with 2:20 left in the second quarter. That sparked a 12-2 run to end the quarter with four threes in four trips down the floor, and Trousdale hit three of those. Loretto held a 28-23 advantage going to the break, and came back out of the locker rooms and stretched that lead to 45-35 before Grant Burleson hit a three-ball to cut the lead to seven headed to the fourth quarter.

Gavin Burleson hit a long ball and a pair of free throws before Grayson Burleson tied the game at 45 with 6:30 to play in the game. The brothers scored all 15 points for the Eagles in the fourth quarter. 

“The last 26 minutes of the game, I thought we played well,” Long said. “I’m proud of the heart the guys showed tonight fighting back.”

It wasn’t enough to ever overtake Loretto, however, as the Mustangs never relinquished their lead and pulled away in the overtime period. Tabias Sirmones had nine of his team-high 23 points in the extra time. His presence on the block, however, was as big as any points he scored.

“We couldn’t finish at the basket tonight, and that’s because (Sirmones) and (Shaler Hankins) are such a big presence down there,” Long said.

Summertown will face Collinwood on Tuesday, and with a win they’ll secure the No. 2 seed in the district tournament. That would ensure Perry County, the other team the Eagles split with on the year, would have to travel to Summertown in the semifinals if both teams get to that point. The championship game will be at Loretto, so long as the Mustangs also take care of business.

“We didn’t want to have to come back down here, and now we have a tough road to get back,” Long said. “Our kids will just have to embrace the challenge.”

Loretto 64, Summertown 53 (OT)

S 3 20 15 15 0 — 53
L 18 10 17 8 11 — 64

Summertown (53) — Skyler Trousdale 11, Grayson Burleson 8, Gavin Burleson 27, Grant Burleson 5, Kaden Trotter 2
Loretto (64) — Omar Joyner 1, Clint Seymore 7, Shaler Hankins 6, Caleb Davis 6, Xavier Young 10, Brenden Tipps 10, Tabias Sirmones 23
3-pointers — Summertown 7 (Trousdale 3, Gray. Burleson 3, Grant Burleson), Loretto 5 (Tipps 2, Davis 2, Seymore)

Lady Raiders take sole possession of 11-AAA lead

By Chris Yow

SPRING HILL — Any great heavyweight bout begins with the two fighters feeling one another out for a round or two. For the Summit and Spring Hill girls basketball teams, that was the entire first quarter.

From there, however, the Lady Raiders were throwing haymakers, scoring 21 unanswered points en route to a 52-33 win. 

Spring Hill improved to 11-4 on the year and 6-0 in District 11-AAA, where they now sit alone atop the standings with a perfect 6-0 record. The Lady Raiders handed Summit its first district loss of the year.

That win eclipses Spring Hill’s district wins total from the previous four seasons combined (4-12, 1-15, 0-13, 0-12). 

“It’s certainly better being on this side of it,” coach Matt Horton said. “But we’ve got six or seven tough games in a row we have to get ready for.”

Cole Alderson and Prairie Stedman worked against Summit’s Ellie Colson for much of the game, and though Alderson played through foul trouble the duo were able to limit the Eastern Illinois signee’s impact. Colson finished with just 10 points, including only two in the second half.

“I know (Summit) coach (John) Wild likes to run it through the post, but our game plan didn’t focus on any one player,” Horton said. “They’re all good.”

That defense was on full display as the first quarter came to an end and into the second quarter, as the Lady Raiders went on a 21-0 run before Colson finally found a bucket with 2:22 to go in the frame. Colson then hit a pair of free throws and another lay up to help her team end the first half on a 6-0 run of their own. 

Spring Hill led 27-14 at the break.

“We came up empty on our last five drives of the first half,” Horton said. “We have some things we still have to fix.”

In the third quarter, Spring Hill was content to hold the ball and run some clock, but the Spartan women clawed back with an aggressive defensive output. Summit was able to cut the lead to as close as 29-24 by the end of the quarter and 35-30 in the fourth, but the Lady Raiders were deadly from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, hitting 11-of-13 from the line, and closed the game on a 15-2 run to finish. Horton was impressed with the second-half effort, considering his team was playing their second game in as many nights.

“We had a tough game against Dickson County (on Tuesday), and the way we were able to fight through the second half, I was really proud of our team,” he said.

Summit will have a chance to avenge this loss on Friday at home, as they host Spring Hill. 

Summit rides balanced offense to win

All but one member of the Summit boys got in the scorebook on Wednesday, as the Spartans cruised to a 70-39 win at Spring Hill.

An 18-point effort — behind four 3-pointers — from Konata Werts and 16 from Bradley Stewart were the standout performances for the Spartans, who improved to 4-3 in 11-AAA play with the win. No other Summit player scored more than seven points. 

Summit jumped out to a quick lead and led 14-4 at the end of the first quarter and 34-18 at the break. A 23-point outburst in the third sealed the deal for the Spartans.

Spring Hill girls 52, Summit 33

S 6 8 10 9 33
SH 5 22 2 23 52

Summit (33) – Delaney Noe 5, Bergen Allee 8, EK Bratton 3, Cydney Wright 3, Ellie Colson 10, Nicole Rizane 4
Spring Hill (52) – Kat Carter 2, Cole Alderson 12, Prairie Stedman 16, Belle Brashear 6, Sierra Stedman 12, Jeyce Brashear 4
3-pointers – Summit 4 (Noe, Allee 2, Bratton), Spring Hill 3 (B. Brashear 2, S. Stedman)

Summit boys 70, Spring Hill 39

S 14 20 23 13 70
SH 4 14 12 9 39

Summit (70) – Andrew Smith 5, Destin Wade 3, Bradley Stewart 14, Tre Hunter 6, Dominick Hollis 4, Konata Werts 18, Brady Pierce 7, CJ Jones 2, Aden Byrd 3, Tanner Shake 1, Marcus White 2, Graham Schneider 2, Alex Pollard 3
Spring Hill (39) – Jayden Davis 9, Ricola Alderson 2, Brytten Georges 12, Jaylen Rucker 10, Quintaveous Simmons 4, Blake Smith 2
3-pointers – Summit 8 (Werts 4, Steward 2, Pierce, Pollard), Spring Hill 5 (Georges 4, Davis)

Photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports

2020 In Pictures: The best photos from SM-Tn Sports

See some of the best and most important photos from 2020 in our year- in-review photo slideshow — from youth league baseball restarting live sports locally in the midst of a global pandemic, to basketball games taking place through the Christmas holidays. State championships were won, seasons ended in heartbreak and even coaches were quarantined, but simply being able to play the games was a feat in itself.

A big thank you to the photographers who have captured the essence of 2020 in photos for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports: Vanessa Beach, Ric Beu, Rob Fleming, Brandy Holloway, Matthew White and Sarah Yow. Also a special thanks to our media partners Jason Goode (MaxPreps), Williamson Herald, 615 Preps and Main Street Preps for their help in covering local sports.

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