McMINN CENTRAL 55, BRAINERD 47
Brainerd 8 13 11 15 — 47
McMinn Central 14 2 11 28 — 55
Brainerd (47) — Jay Besley 18, Marques Tipton 12, Stewart, De. Otis, Glenn 2, D. Moore, O. Moore 6, Cooper 4, Stubbs 5.
McMinn Central (55) — Ward 4, Josh Scudder 19, Cook 2, Tim Webb 16, Farrar, Boyd 6, Miller 8, Kepley.
3-point goals: Brainerd 4 (Besley 3, Tipton); McMinn Central 4 (Scudder 3, Webb). Records: McMinn Central 28-3; Brainerd 15-13.
ATHENS, Tenn. — Even with his team down nine points with 6:34 remaining in its Region 3-AA semifinal game Tuesday against Brainerd, McMinn Central guard Josh Scudder had no doubt the Chargers would find a way to win.
His coach, Doug Armstrong, admitted he was anxious at times, but with all the doubt that had been hurled the Chargers' way this postseason, he didn't want to add any more.
The Chargers responded with a 15-0 run in a three-minute span late in the game and advanced to the region final Thursday against Howard with a 55-47 win over the Panthers at McMinn County High School. Both finalists are assured Class AA sectional berths Monday.
Scudder scored a game-high 19 points with three of the four 3-point baskets for the Chargers (28-3), who scored only two points in the second quarter.
"People have doubted us all year," Scudder said. "They felt we'd sweep the district and stumble in the region, but we came and executed like Coach told us all year long. We got down, but we kept fighting and I knew we weren't going anywhere.
"We never gave up."
McMinn Central attacked the basket throughout the game, taking the lead when Bradley Ward fed Max Miller for a layup with 3:12 remaining. Tim Webb added a steal and a layup and Miller hit a jump shot, and then Scudder's three-point play stretched the Chargers' lead to eight with 1:31 remaining.
The Panthers (15-13) doomed themselves in the fourth quarter. They went over five minutes without a field goal and missed five of nine free throws in the final eight minutes.
"I told the guys that there are times Brainerd would make you look bad on offense, but we'd have multiple possessions and to keep attacking," Armstrong said. "It took us a while, but I thought we made enough plays down the stretch to win."
Webb added 16 points for the Chargers.
Jay Besley had 18 to lead Brainerd, including all of the Panthers' 13 second-quarter points. Marques Tipton scored 12.
"We made too many turnovers down the stretch and didn't hit free throws," Brainerd coach Robert High said. "We gave the game away."