MURFREESBORO, TN- The Upperman Lady Bees began their third TSSAA BlueCross State Championships appearance in four years in style with a 59-42 win over the Gatlinburg-Pittman Lady Highlanders on Wednesday in Murfreesboro.
The Lady Bees were propelled by a big performance by Ms. Basketball finalist Reagan Hurst as they advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament.
“We’re feeling great,” said UHS head coach Dana McWilliams. “We’re in the final four. What an accomplishment.”
The game opened as a defensive battle as the teams traded baskets throughout the first quarter. Reagan Hurst tallied four points in the frame but the Lady Highlanders took an 11-9 lead into the second quarter.
Junior Torie Brooks buried a three-pointer with 5:25 remaining in the first half to give Upperman a 15-13 lead. The Lady Bees then began to push the tempo against the GPHS defense as they went on an 8-0 run over 2:19 to take a 19-13 lead. Abigail Johnson hit a second-chance basket in the closing seconds and the Lady Bees took a 23-15 lead into halftime.
“Any game, especially at this level, you’ve just got to see how the game is going to go,” said McWilliams on the Lady Bees moving to an up-tempo style. “It just kind of went that way for us. We know we can do that. I thought they did a good job.”
Reagan Hurst tallied four straight points early in the third to stretch the UHS lead to 29-19. The teams then traded baskets through the majority of the quarter before GPHS hit a three to cut the deficit to 37-31 with 46 seconds remaining in the frame. Brooks then hit a jumper as time expired to give the Lady Bees a 40-31 lead after three quarters.
Johnson extended the UHS lead to double-digits with a second-chance-basket to make it 44-33 with 6:08 remaining. The Lady Bees then held off GPHS down the stretch as they secured the 17-point win.
Hurst led the way with 21 points. Johnson added 16.
“Abigail was great tonight,” said McWilliams. “She really came through.”
The Lady Bees will return to the court on Friday when they will take on the winner of Grainger and Westview in the semifinal round of the tournament. Tipoff is set for 1:15 p.m.