Preps: Region 6-AAA tournament opens with thrilling finishes

Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 9:28pm

It didn’t take long for Region 6-AAA to crank out a couple of unbelievable finishes at Hillwood High.

The first two games Friday ended with virtual buzzer beaters as the Hillsboro girls and Ravenwood boys won in dramatic fashion.

The district champ Hillsboro girls trailed Cane Ridge for nearly the entire second half and were behind by seven, 34-27, with three and a half minutes left.

They stormed back and, with the scored tied, junior guard Jemilah Leonard hit an off balance, twisting layup with four seconds left for a 39-37 lead. Tariana Carter then intercepted the inbound pass and added two free throws for a 41-37 victory.

“I’m just glad that shot went in,” coach Cherish Stringfield said. “We came out flat, and I’m not sure why. I will assure you we won’t come out that way Monday [in the semifinals].”

Even more exciting was when Joey Barnes hit a desperation 12-foot shot that gave district tournament champion Ravenwood a 48-46 win over Cane Ridge.

Cane Ridge trailed nearly the entire way but tied it on a 3-pointer by Matt Brown with a minute to go.

As time ran down, Raptors guard Devin Robinson drove the baseline and missed a contested runner. The rebound bounced back almost to the foul line, and Barnes grabbed it and got his shot off, just beating the buzzer.

“I knew I had to get a shot up quick,” Barnes said just after being mobbed by his teammates. “It got us the win, and we’re moving on, baby.”

The Raptors take on Brentwood in the semifinals Tuesday. It is the fourth meeting of the season between the schools.

Rubber match: Hillsboro and Hunters Lane split their regular season series, which was as close as it could be. Each won by one point.

So Tuesday’s rubber game in the bous semifinals at Hillwood should be a sparkler in a win-or-go -home contest.

Hillsboro (17-14) edged the Warriors 61-60 in the LeRoy Wright Invitational during Thanksgiving break, and Hunters Lane won at home 54-53 on Dec. 16. That win was part of a 17-game winning streak the Warriors (27-2) carry into this contest.

“We’ve had two great, one-point games with them,” sixth-year Hillsboro coach Rodney Thweatt said. “But lately, they’ve been playing great.”

“It’s tall task for us,” Hunters Lane coach Anthony Sewell whose team finished unbeaten in district play, said. “We’ll have to play hard the entire way.”

Dezon Dozier rattled in 22 points, including four 3-pointers in Hillsboro’s 55-48 quarterfinal victory over McGavock.

“We’re riding on him with his senior leadership,” Thweatt said. “He’s shown the steel nerves, stepping up and hitting those big free throws down the stretch.

State qualifiers: With a sectional win, Donelson Christian Academy’s boys basketball team made its first trip since 2002 to the state tournament and joined University School of Nashville in this year’s DII-A event, which opens Thursday afternoon at Lipscomb.

Defending champ Franklin Road Academy and Ezell-Harding qualified on the girls side.

From Nashville, surprising Father Ryan (8-18), with a sectional win, joined Ensworth in the DII-AA boys tournament, and Pope John Paul II joined Ensworth on the girls side.

Reviving softball: Battle Ground Academy is reviving its softball program this spring after a year’s absence.

The Wildcats will be coached by former BGA standout Dyan Damron (class of 1998), a five-year letterwinner in the sport.

Ezell-Harding hire: Ezell-Harding has named former Alabama standout Calvin Hall as its new football coach. He replaces Jeff Phillips who stepped down after two straight 4-7 seasons but plans to remain as director of operations.

Hall was a captain at Alabama as a senior in 1998 and was the receivers coach at LaVergne High School last season. He was an assistant at Beech High from 2000-02.

Simms headed to Xavier: Station Camp High cross country standout Briana Simms has signed to run for Xavier University, New Orleans, La.

Simms, a native of Hendersonville, has competed in four consecutive years in the distance races in the TSSAA state track meet in Murfreesboro and helped Station Camp finish third last year in the Class AAA team standings. She has been named county and all-Midstate for four straight years.

Simms is joining a team that has won the past six Gulf Coast Atlantic Conference team championships and three of the past four NAIA titles.


Region 6-AAA

(at Hillwood High)
Monday’s games
Semifinals (girls):
Hillsboro vs. Brentwood, 6 p.m.; Overton vs. Antioch, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s games
Semifnals (boys):
Ravenwood vs. Brentwood, 6 p.m.; Hunters Lane vs. Hillsboro, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s game: Girls final, 7 p.m.
Thursday’s game: Boys final, 7 p.m.

Region 5-AA
(at Stratford High)
Monday’s games
Semifinals (girls):
David Lipscomb vs. Macon County, 6 p.m.; Christ Presbyterian Academy vs. Westmoreland, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s games
Semifinals (boys):
East Lit vs. David Lipscomb, 6 p.m.; Christ Presbyterian Academy vs. Maplewood, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s game: Girls final, 7 p.m.
Thursday’s game: Boys final, 7 p.m.