MURFREESBORO – The Upperman Lady Bees won the TSSAA Class 3A Girls’ Basketball State Championship in a 48-43 win over Jackson Southside on Saturday at the Murphy Center.
The Lady Bees overcame a slow start and got big performances from several players as they won their third state title in six seasons.
“Just unbelievable,” said UHS head coach Dana McWilliams. “I’m just so proud of these girls.”
“It means a lot,” said senior point guard Brooklyn Crouch. “It’s a dream come true. It doesn’t feel real yet… I’m so excited.”
The athletic Lady Hawks defense presented problems for Upperman early, as the Lady Bees committed four turnovers and faced a 14-4 deficit 4:30 into the game. Crouch splashed a three out of the first TV timeout of the game to make it 14-7. The Lady Bees finished the frame on a 9-2 run to make it a 16-13 JSS lead after one.
“They jumped out on us,” said McWilliams. “We were a little nervous, probably… but I felt confident. It wasn’t the first time we’ve been down early and it wasn’t the most we’ve been down early.”
The stifling Lady Bees’ defense settled in during the second quarter, holding JSS to four points in the frame, all from the line. Senior Emma Conradi scored six straight points in 55 seconds and Jayla Cobb made a floater at the buzzer as the Lady Bees took a 24-20 lead into halftime.
The Lady Hawks regained the lead with a 6-0 run to open the third, but Crouch then made two free throws to tie the game at 26. Junior forward Abigail Johnson then sent the Upperman fans in Murfreesboro into a frenzy with two triples to give UHS a 34-28 lead with 3:25 remaining in the third.
“I’ve told (Johnson) she has the green light to shoot it when she wants,” said McWilliams. “Why would you want to when she can do what she does inside? When we needed that the most she stepped up. I don’t think anyone was shocked that she made it. That’s what these kids are, they’re gamers. In big moments they make big plays.”
Crouch added a three with 2:15 left to stretch the UHS lead to 38-28. The Lady Hawks closed the quarter with four straight to make it 38-32 after three.
Conradi made a layup in transition to give the Lady Bees a 44-34 lead with 5:30 left in the game. The Lady Hawks forced several turnovers down the stretch with their patented pressure defense, but Cobb made four free throws in the final minute as the Lady Bees secured another gold ball.
“She’s a great athlete,” said McWilliams on Cobb. “When she’s on the line I would say everybody was confident they were going in.”
The Lady Bees were led by Crouch and Cobb, who each scored 13 points. Johnson tallied 10 points and nine rebounds. Conradi tallied 10 points and three rebounds.
The Lady Bees played in 17 single-digit games this season. McWilliams said their experience prepared them for the state title game.
“It felt like every single game was close for us,” said McWilliams. “We knew that about our team. I don’t think anybody was wavering.”
Conradi, Crouch, Cobb and Johnson were named to the All-Tournament Team, with Johnson being named Tournament MVP. ”
“Emma doesn’t come out of the game,” said McWilliams on Conradi’s emergence in her senior year. “Maybe the proudest moment tonight was when they announced her on the All-Tournament Team.”
It was the Lady Bees’ 10th state tournament appearance, sixth state title game appearance and third state championship (2017 and 2018).
Photos by Kailee Means: