Loudon High School squeaked out a 76-68 victory after a furious fourth-quarter comeback by Brainerd in the Region 3-AA girls' basketball semifinals Monday at East Ridge.
Aspen Jordan was a force inside for the Lady Redskins and scored a blistering 34 points, with nearly all of them coming in the paint.
"She was as advertised," Brainerd coach Tyrus Ward said of Jordan. "She did a great job of getting down the floor and finishing. Hopefully next time we can get a body in front of her."
Loudon led 20-18 after the first quarter and ballooned the margin to 17 points with 25 in the second quarter to go into halftime leading 45-28. Jordan had the hot hand, scoring 19 in the half.
The Lady Panthers fought back behind Jumeka Brown, who scored eight of her 21 in the quarter, and cut the lead to 13 with about six minutes to play, but Loudon escaped with a 15-point lead.
Brainerd made it interesting in the fourth quarter, trimming the lead to single digits at 64-55 with six and a half minutes to play after two three-point plays by Jamee Ward, who led Brainerd with 28 points. The lead shrank to seven with 5:20 to play before Rachel Kelly's 3-pointer stretched the Redskins' lead back to 67-57.
Brown suffered an injury with 5:06 to play, but the Lady Panthers offense refused to stall behind Ward and Ebony Calloway, who scored the next 15 Brainerd points and cut the lead to 73-68 with 25 seconds to play.
"These girls are used to tough situations, so they're used to fighting back," Coach Ward said. "It showed the resiliency of these kids."
However, Loudon sealed the victory by making five of its six free throws in the closing seconds.
"My girls fought hard as always, but we just fell short," Coach Ward said. "I've asked a lot of these girls this year and they've just kept believing in me. It's hard to hold back my tears, because I'm just so proud of what they've done this season."
Loudon will clash with Sequoyah in the region final Wednesday at 7 p.m. after Sequoyah emerged with a 72-60 overtime victory in a physical battle with McMinn Central. The Chiefs were led by Hunter Simpson's 34 points.