WHITWELL 60, VAN BUREN COUNTY 47
Whitwell 12 12 12 24 -- 60
Van Buren 9 12 13 13 -- 47
Whitwell (60) -- Gholston 5, Haley Atterton 15, Alyssa Coppinger 21, Paige Carter 10, Kilgore 9, Smith, Bennington, Hendrick, Andregg.
Van Buren County (47) -- Cole 4, Grissom 8, Lakelyn Bouldin 30, Hitchcock 5, Hankins, McCoy, S. Christian.
3-point goals: Whitwell 3 (Carter, Coppinger, Kilgore); Van Buren 2 (Cole, Hitchcock). Records: Whitwell 25-8; Van Buren 21-10.
Under normal conditions, the Whitwell girls' high school basketball team loves to pick up defensively from end to end and throw relentless man-to-man pressure at its opponents. So the conditions must not have been normal in Monday's second Region 3-A semifinal at Sale Creek.
District 6 player of the year Lakelyn Bouldin from Van Buren County torched the Lady Tigers' defense for 30 points, but without enough scoring help from teammates, the Eaglettes fell 60-47 to Whitwell.
Whitwell (25-8) faces Silverdale Baptist Academy in Wednesday's region final.
Lady Tigers coach Eric Zensen took a chance putting his team in a half-court zone defense Monday, and it paid off.
"Lakelyn is such a great player, inside and outside," Zensen said of the freshman sensation. "We figured she's going to get her points. We wanted to make somebody else beat us. We went with a zone and felt like it was really effective for us."
Van Buren had three other scoresr besides Bouldin. Tiffany Grissom, one of the seniors along with Lacy Hankins, had the most among those three with eight points.
"We took the same shots this game we've taken all season," Van Buren coach Amy Russell said. "Tonight they just didn't fall for us."
The Eaglettes ended up 9-of-11 from the free-throw line, but that paled compared to the Lady Tigers' 21-of-22 accuracy.
"They didn't leave us any openings at all," Russell said. "They just hit everything there at the end."
With Whitwell leading 46-42 when Kelsey Kilgore went to the line with 2:15 to play, the Lady Tigers made all 12 of their free throws in the remaining time.
"We definitely finished at the end of the game," Zensen said. "You couldn't ask for a better job at the free-throw line."
Alyssa Coppinger led Whitwell with 21 points. Haley Atterton drew praise from Zensen for her defensive work, and she also scored 15 points. Paige Carter chipped in with 10.
Van Buren, which had six freshmen among the 10 players dressed out Monday, finished the year 21-10.
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.