by Rusty Ellis
The Upperman Lady Bees earned a major district win on Friday, as they took down White County 49-46 in Baxter.
Upperman came out of the gates on fire early, taking as big as an eight-point lead before the end of the first quarter. Upperman continued to push their lead further in the second quarter, with the advantage reaching double digits at one point at 24-14.
Sparta’s Karley Gentry made a three right before the half to cut the deficit to just 24-17 at the break.
The Lady Bees defense continued to give the Warriorettes some fits in the second half, limiting them to just 11 points in the third quarter to maintain their seven-point lead heading into the fourth.
There, Upperman once again build their lead to double-digits, allowing them to withstand a late Sparta run to win 49-46 and split the season-series with the Warriorettes.
Taylor Dolente led the Lady Bees with 15 points, while Gracie Butler added 11 points. Nia Powers scored a game-high 19 points for White County, and Celeste Reed scored 17.
There was plenty to like for UHS head coach Dana McWilliams, as she says she was proud of her team for bouncing back from a tough first meeting in Sparta for this win.
“Any game that you can get in this district is a big win,” McWilliams said. “I’m proud of the kids, I think we played hard…we didn’t finish like we wanted to, but overall, I thought it was a great effort by both teams.”
Defensively, Upperman found something that worked in this second meeting after allowing 61 points in the first one. McWilliams says that it simply came down to how much pride her team took at that end of the floor.
“We didn’t feel good about our game there,” McWilliams said. “We always feel like we can win, but we wanted to just have a better showing (at that end of the floor).”
The Bees battled back from eight down in the second half of their game to earn a season-sweep of White County 42-36.
Both teams went back-and-forth early, but it was a late bucket by Clayton Harris that gave Upperman a 13-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sparta fought back in the second, getting a couple key baskets from Japheth Richmond to help push the Warriors to a 23-17 lead by the time halftime rolled around.
White County appeared to take full control of the game in the third quarter, as they held a 30-22 lead as their biggest advantage of the game, but Upperman rallied back and trailed by only three heading into the fourth.
There, the Bees outscored White County 15-6 on their way to a sweep of the season series between the two teams, as Upperman won 42-36.
Harris led the way with 16 points for the Bees, while Hayden Petty added eight points. Jake Davis paced White County with 13 points.
A district win like this sets Upperman up really nicely in the standings, as head coach Bobby McWilliams knows how tough it can be to win in 7AAA.
“Any win in this district is a good win,” McWilliams said. “I can’t say enough about my guys. We fell behind and then kind of just fought our way back into it…we finally made a couple free throws down the stretch, and we went after 50-50 balls more in the second half.”
That effort and aggressiveness on the boards and on offense is what McWilliams believes made the difference in the game.
“We had to try to be a little more aggressive offensively,” McWilliams said. “Being able to rebound the ball was the biggest difference when they missed…we finally got it and were able to take off in transition.”
The Bees will take on Franklin Classical on Saturday for their next contest, while the Lady Bees won’t be back in action until Tuesday against Macon County. White County will take on DeKalb County at home on Tuesday.