Fast or slow, up-tempo or snooze ball, all is well for University School of Nashville as long as it gets to take a trip to the state finals.
The Tigers won a 35-20 slow-down decision over Webb School Thursday in a game where they scored more points in the fourth quarter than they did the first three — and it earned them a trip to the DII-A state finals Saturday at Lipscomb's Allen Arena.
Mr. Basketball finalist Meiko Lyles scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists — all game highs — as the Tigers (21-6) took one step further than they did last year when they lost in the semis.
“We had blown them (Webb) out in our two earlier meetings, so I thought the game might go a little different this time around,’’ said Coach Adam Sonn whose team led 12-8 at the half – not exactly a recipe of offensive excitement.
“We’re fine with that style as long as you’re in the lead,’’ he said. “We had seen 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 and man defense against us,’’ he said. “Se we expected something different.’’
Webb started to foul at the start of the fourth quarter, and Lyles stepped up, hitting six straight free throws and 10-for-13 in the quarter as USN inched steadily ahead.
“It was very frustrating,’’ Lyles said. “We ran them out of the gym in our first two games, it was just something we had to adjust to. Coach Sonn emphasizes hitting free throws late in the game, and that’s something we did.’’
Lyles finished by hitting 11-of-14 free throws, while Robby Cobean hit a pair of threes for USN, keeping the Tigers safely ahead, and Eliot Goldfarb had three steals. USN limited Webb to just 26.7% shooting (8-of-30) and 0-of-12 from three. USN managed just 9-of-26 (34.6%).
USN will take on St. George’s School in the final Saturday in the first meeting of the season between the two.
“I was impressed with them in their win over Knoxville Webb, they have a couple of outstanding three-point shooters,’’ Sonn said. “I hoping we have a big turnout for the finals, there’s no excuse for not having a big crowd, since we’re just a few blocks away.’’
Hunter Foutch scored seven to lead for Webb out of Bell Buckle which was making its state tourney debut.
FRA gains first state finals trip
Franklin Road Academy staged a furious fourth-quarter rally to edge defending state champion Webb School of Knoxville 41-36 to gain the school’s first state finals trip in DII-A girls.
Trailing by 11 at 26-15 midway through the third quarter, FRA (26-4) fought back and finally took the lead when Erin Ford stole the ball and hit a layup for a 36-35 lead, then Abby Wharton scored from inside as the Panthers ended the game on a 10-0 run.
Miss Basketball finalist Erica Wyatt and Mariah Canady had 11 each to lead the Panthers, and Wyatt added five rebounds and two blocks. Wyatt and Wharton clinched it with two free throws each in the final 30 seconds.
“We felt like we had an advantage in the post, and if we were able to get the ball inside, it definitely increased our chances,’’ said Coach Chris Hart.
FRA scored just two points in the second quarter and trailed 18-12 at the half, but urged on by their big cheering section in the end zone, the Panthers finished in a blaze.
“Winning a game like this definitely boosts our confidence as we go into the finals,’’ said Ford. “We don’t get too many chances like this, so we need to play our best.’’
“Abby had that big steal, and Mariah was so good in the post,’’ Wyatt said.
Margorie Butler had 11 to lead Webb which ended 17-15.
DCA girls fall in closing seconds
Donelson Christian Academy missed a chance to make it an all-Nashville area final when the Lady Cats lost a heartbreaking 58-56 verdict to Harding Academy in the other semis.
Dee Bates two free throws pulled DCA into a 56-56 tie with 1:49 left.
DCA got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but Harding’s Alex Black stole the ball and scored a layup to take the lead. DCA had one final chance, taking two time outs with five seconds left to set up a play, but Harding’s Kiana Christy Webb stole the inbounds pass. Christina Brown scored 15 to lead Harding.
Kerri Loftis had one of her best games with 27 points and 14 rebounds and four assists, all game highs, and Bates added 15 and three blocked shots for DCA. Guard Julie Johnson added 12 for DCA (20-10) which was making its first state tourney appearance.
“Our post players scored 42 points, and I cannot ever remember a game we had where our two inside players scored that many points and we lost,’’ said 10th year DCA Coach Bret Schierling.
“It was fun game for the fans to watch, and Harding made the big plays,’’ he said. “This has been a great team to coach, and we should be good next season.’’
“It’s disappointing,’’ Bates said. “But you’ll take this and go back and work hard, and try your best to get back next season.’’
Region tournament results
Hunters Lane 68, McGavock 60, boys final
Maplewood 41, M.L. King 32, boys final
DII state tournament
Thursday’s Class A semifinals
St. George’s 59, Knox Webb 53, boys
Harding Acad. 58, DCA 56, girls
Friday’s Class AA semifinals
11 a.m.—St. Benedict vs. Ensworth, girls
12:30 p.m.—MBA vs. Ensworth, boys
2:15 p.m. – Pope JPII vs. Briarcrest, girls
3:45 p.m.—McCallie vs. Mem. CBHS, boys