Lady Knights win region title, send Tigerettes on road for sub-state
In just their second year in existence, the Nolensville Lady Knights (22-8) won the Region 6-AA Tournament championship with a 46-38 victory over Marshall County Wednesday night at home and are one win away from the state tournament as they host East Nashville Saturday night in a state sectional contest.
“Our goal was to just go to sub-state this year and get into regionals and we have already passed that, so it’s a lot of relief that we got this far and I’m happy and excited,” District 12-AA regular season MVP and All-Region Tournament selection Grace Baird said. “We played East Nashville in a tournament and we lost and that was one of our worst games of the year, but we have a game plan for them and I think we can slow them down.”
East Nashville (27-8) beat Nolensville 68-39 in the Above the Rim Tournament at Hickman County on December 29.
Baird was one of three Lady Knights in double figures in the scoring column with 10 points, while Zoe Pillar led the way with 14 points and Parker Leftwich netted 13.
Hannah Davis was the lone Tigerette in double figures with 11 points.
“I’m proud of them and proud that we stayed with the game the whole time and played hard,” Marshall County coach David Steely said. “We have a chance to play in Murfreesboro and we are gonna get ready for Saturday.”
The four-time state champion Tigerettes (22-8) travel to Ashland City to take on a powerful Cheatham County (27-1) squad that has won 20 games in a row coming into the state sectional game.
The last time the two teams met was in 2007 when the Tigerettes beat the Lady Cubs 43-35 in Marshall County’s last state championship season.
Demariae Ingram nailed a jumper to start the game for Marshall County before Nolensville scored six straight points.
Davis scored in the blocks for the Tigerettes and that was matched by a Leftwich bucket as the low scoring first quarter ended on a Kelsey Keiler rebound and put-back.
Izzy Phillips banged home a 3-pointer for Nolensville to start the second quarter, but Claire Woods came up with a trey to make it 11-9 in favor of the Lady Knights and moments later, Davis tied the game with a basket in the low post.
After a Nolensville turnover, Leah Hollingsworth rained home a 3-pointer to make it 14-11, forcing a Nolensville timeout with 4:52 remaining in the second quarter.
The Lady Knights turned the ball over again after the stoppage and Davis was fouled and went to the free throw line where she made both shots to put the Tigerettes up 16-11.
Leftwich and Baird scored on back-to-back possessions for Nolensville to cut the Marshall County lead to one point before Keiler scored on a rebound and put-back to make it 18-15.
Pillar came up with her first basket of the game at the end of the first half and the Tigerettes went to the intermission with a one-point, 18-17 lead.
Davis and Pillar exchanged low post baskets to start the third period and Keiler made one of two from the free throw line.
Caymin Ladd hit a 3-pointer to put the Lady Knights in front, but Leah Hollingsworth got loose from the Nolensville defense and banged home a long bomb to make it a 24-22 contest in favor of the Tigerettes.
Marshall County did not lead again in the contest and Baird had a big hand in their downfall, scoring on back-to-back trips down the floor to put the Lady Knights up 26-24.
A Tigerettes’ missed field goal led to a Leftwich 3-pointer to make it a seven-point contest and force a Marshall County timeout with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter.
“The first half 18-17, that’s our style, that’s what I like to do,” Steely said. “They got going in the second half and we couldn’t handle number three (Baird) getting to the rim there for a stretch and then they made a couple of three’s and stretched the lead on us and we couldn’t get back in it.”
Pillar knocked down a pair of field goals and Ingram scored for Marshall County before the period ended with the Lady Knights holding a 33-26 lead.
Leftwich scored on a driving layup to begin the fourth quarter and after a Tigerettes’ missed shot, Ladd scored to make it a double-digit lead for Nolensville.
Lewisburg could not catch up from there and the Lady Knights secured their first region title in school history, while the Tigerettes stay alive in hopes of still reaching Murfreesboro with an upset over the one-loss Lady Cubs.
“They (Cheatham County) are really good, but you gotta go play and you just never know when you are going to give yourself that chance and a miracle happens and we are going to play for that opportunity, so we are going to watch a lot of game film and have a game plan and we will be ready,” Steely said. “Since the day I walked back in the gym two years ago my first conversation was to them that I love this team and I love this program and I want to coach at Murfreesboro again and I want you to play in Murfreesboro and we are getting closer.”
Marshall County 6 12 8 12-38
Nolensville 8 9 16 13-46
Marshall County (38): Hannah Davis 11, Leah Hollingsworth 8, Demariae Ingram 8, Claire Woods 5, Kelsey Keiler 4, Alli Hobbs 2.
Free Throws (5-for-6): Davis 3-for-4, Ingram 2-for-2.
3-Point goals (3): Hollingsworth 2, Woods.
Nolensville (46): Zoe Pillar 14, Parker Leftwich 13, Grace Baird 10, Caymin Ladd 6, Izzy Phillips 3.
Free Throws (7-for-9): Leftwich 2-for-4, Baird 2-for-2, Pillar 2-for-2, Ladd 1-for-1.
3-Point Goals (3): Phillips, Ladd, Leftwich.
Halftime Score: Marshall County 18, Nolensville 17.