It's been said in sports that a game can't be won in the first quarter, but it can be lost then. Central girls' basketball coach Rick May felt that way Thursday night.
Host Tyner's quick start was too much for his Lady Purple Pounders to overcome, and the Lady Rams won 50-34 in an opening-round game in the District 6-AA high school tournament.
Tyner (9-15) moves on to take on the winner between Red Bank and top-seeded East Hamilton at 1 p.m. in the first of Saturday's semifinals at Hixson. Central, which tied the Lady Rams and Hixson for fourth place in the district regular-season standings, ended its season 9-14.
With Jemicah Bowman scoring 17 of his 19 points in the first half, Tyner's boys cruised past Hixson 78-45 in Thursday's second game at Tyner. The six other quarterfinals are scheduled tonight.
Each girls' and boys' team that advances to the semifinals also earns a berth in the Region 3 tournament.
Every Lady Rams starter had two points when Central called time out down 10-0 with 4:02 left in the first quarter. The Lady Pounders' Sandrea Sylman halted the onslaught momentarily with a 3-pointer coming out of the timeout, but the Lady Rams closed out the quarter with another eight consecutive points and led 18-3.
Tyner's largest lead was 27-6 with a little less than a minute to go in the second quarter.
"We got beat in the first quarter," May said. "Nothing went in. Tyner came ready to play. They were ready right off the bat. We weren't ready. I guess that's on the coach."
One of the big factors contributing to the Lady Rams' start was their rebounding. Kesha Parks and Delvay Hines led Tyner with 12 points apiece, and Hines also finished with 16 rebounds.
"We didn't rebound so well our last game," Tyner coach Kyone Arnwine said. "That was a big point of emphasis. You've got to put a body on a body and go after the ball."
Another factor was the Lady Pounders' inability to connect often from the perimeter, which was a challenge the Lady Rams gave them.
"Our focus was to keep them out of the paint," Arnwine said. "They like to slash a lot and cut."
Central scored the last four points of the first half and the first six of the second to get within 11. Ultimately the Lady Pounders closed within 34-26 on India Corley's drive from the right wing with 6:23 to play, but they got no closer.
"Our pressure started working and forcing turnovers," May explained how his team outscored Tyner 28-23 the last 16 and a half minutes. "The first half we stood and watched everything. That's not what we are."
Corley topped Central with 11 points. Sylman's 10 were in the first three quarters.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.