Sweetwater’s Lady Cats put up their best fight of the season against the Chargerettes on Friday night, but ultimately fell 47-33 to end up in the district consolation game on Monday.
The Lady Cats won the tip, and Mikalee Martin scored the first points of the semifinal matchup. Central scored on back-to-back trips, but despite a few Lady Cats turnovers, Central only found themselves up 7-4 midway through the first quarter.
Central knocked down a trey, but on the other end, Abbey Barr was fouled on a baseline jumper, sending her to the line where she went 1-2.
Like deja vu, Central knocked down a triple, and Barr was again fouled on the other end. This time, however, it wasn’t a shooting foul. The inbounds went to Martin, who gave it a soft touch inside for two.
Sweetwater broke out the full court press after pulling in a defensive rebound but Madison Robinson missed the layup. She made up for it next trip down the floor with an assist to Barr. With under a minute to play in the first, Central was out front of the Lady Cats by 4.
Mari Robbins pushed the floor for the Lady Cats, scoring through contact and a foul, but she could not complete the 3-point play. At the end of one, the Lady Cats trailed McMinn Central 11-13.
Shea Wheeler maneuvered a beautiful spin inside but couldn’t get the roll. The first points of the second quarter came at seven minutes with an offensive put-back for Central.
Both teams struggled to score in the second quarter. The Lady Cats turned the ball over, but great transition defense resulted in no points off the turnover. Robbins pushed the floor and laid in a tricky shot with a foul.
With five minutes remaining in the half, the Lady Cats still trailed Central by just two points, with a score of 15-13. Central knocked one down from the elbow for two. Robbins again to the basket, again fouled. Robbins went 1-2 from the line, but a lane violation on the Lady Cats took the free throw away.
Central’s Carlee Rule would score the next four points. Central had an opportunity at a 3-point play, after Buckner battled through contact to score but she also could not convert from the line. Robbins was fouled on the inbound, sending her to the line where she went 2-2. At the half, the Lady Cats trailed Central 26-15.
Just like the first half, it was the Lady Cats who managed to put the first points on the board in the second half with a free throw from Robbins. Central answered with a triple. Both teams continued to struggle from the free throw line.
Sweetwater’s Robinson rebounded her own miss and scored. Upton was fouled underneath on the next Lady Cats’ possessions. She went 2-2 from the line. Runyan knocked down a baseline jumper. Robinson reeled in another offensive rebound and put it back up for two, cutting the Central lead to single digits.
After a few scoreless minutes, Central made good on a free throw to put them back out front by 10, with a score of 32-22 with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter. In a race up the sideline, Barr fought to draw a foul. Martin laid it in on the inbounds to cut the lead to eight. Robbins came up with a steal but turned it over trying to make her way back to the top of the key. Robbins hustled back on defense to force a miss and was fouled reeling in the rebound.
After three quarters of play, the Lady Cats were still very much in the game, trailing Central 24-34.
Both teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter. The Lady Cats cut it to six with back-to-back scores, and a couple empty trips for Central, forcing Central to call a timeout.
Central quieted the Lady Cats’ rally with a two underneath, but a Central foul in the back court sent Barr to the line in single bonus. Barr sunk both free throws. After a Central basket, they led by eight with three minutes remaining in regulation. Sweetwater’s Shea Wheeler fouled out of the game with two minutes to play, Central still up by 8.
A pair of free throws and a 3-point play for Central gave them a slight momentum push, but The Lady Cats were still fighting. Sweetwater’s Robinson was fouled inside, sending her to the strike, where she went 1-2. Both teams came up empty on multiple trips up the floor before Central scored in the paint to give the Chargerettes a 47-33 lead.
That would end up being the final score, sending McMinn Central to the District 5AA Championship to take on Meigs County.
The Lady Cats played in the third place game on Monday night, where they defeated the Sequoyah Lady Chiefs. The Lady Chiefs also move on to play in the regional tournament.
Robbins led the Lady Wildcats in scoring with 9, while Barr and Robinson finished with 7 each.