SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — Van Buren County's girls wasted no time defending their District 6-A tournament championship. In fact, for all practical purposes the Eaglettes had the title in hand by the end of the first quarter Tuesday, building a huge early lead and coasting for a 72-43 victory over Whitwell.
Van Buren, which had beaten every district opponent by double digits this season, scored the game's first seven baskets, racing out to a 13-0 lead, and were in complete control by the end of the opening period, having built a 23-4 advantage.
"That was our focus coming in, to take them out of it early," Eaglettes first-year coach Cheryl Cole said. "We wanted to jump on them early and put the game away.
"You're always worried about overconfidence coming into a tournament when you've had such a good season. But it says a lot about this team that they came in and took care of business every night. And we're still very young, which is even better."
Lookout Valley held off tournament host Richard Hardy 50-47 in the consolation game, and all four teams advance to this weekend's Region 3-A tournament. The boys' consolation and championship games will be played tonight.
Lakelyn Bouldin's 20 points led the Eaglettes, who had three players in double figures. And with a starting lineup that includes three sophomores, Van Buren's defense limited Whitwell to 5-of-30 first-half shooting.
"We only turned the ball over four times, so we were able to get shots. We just didn't make them," Lady Tigers coach Eric Zensen said. "They're awfully tough because they're a complete team. They can take you inside or outside."
Kelsey Kilgore's game-high 23 points led Whitwell.
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Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...