MURFREESBORO — Unable to climb over the tall timber, David Lipscomb lost its quarterfinal game in the girls state tournament.
The standout McMinn Central inside duo of 6-foot-1 Jenna Adams and 5-foot-10 Elizabeth Massengil scored 44 of their team’s 62 points. That was more than enough for the top-ranked Chargers to hand Lipscomb a 62-48 loss in the Class AA Blue Cross quarterfinals Thursday morning at MTSU.
Adams, a finalist for AA Miss Basketball, scored 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds, both game-highs. Massengil added 21 points and five rebounds as the Chargers (33-1) jumped to a 26-15 halftime lead and cruised to victory and into Friday’s semifinals.
“They were outstanding,” veteran Coach Ernie Smith, who took his Lipscomb team to its 12th state tournament, said. “We tried a lot of difference defenses on them, man with help, some zone and even a little junk defense at times. You had to pick your poison.”
“We feel like our inside game is as good as anybody’s,” McMinn coach Johnny Morgan said. “Jenna and Elizabeth are very capable of dominating a game and with their tournament experience, they know what to expect.
“We’ve emphasized to our team to not to be so concerned about the score and clock, just keep playing hard.”
Adams, a Lee University signee, also had a block and two steals and two key hoops when determined Lipscomb made a run.
Loren Cagle concluded an excellent freshman year by leading the Lady Mustangs (26-7) with 15 points, including her team’s first five.
“Getting off to a good start was a big point of emphasis,” Cagle said. “We came out to play and never gave up.”
After Stephanie Hamby’s hoop brought Lipscomb into a 7-7 tie, McMinn’s Alisa Guariola, who scored nine, knocked in a 3-pointer, and the Chargers never gave up the lead again.
Junior Kelli Smith added 13 points and a team-high four rebounds and three assists for Lipscomb.
“We always feel we can come back,” Kelli Smith said. “We’ve been down 11-1 before (in the sectional game at Lewis County), and we came back and won.”
A steal and a three-point hoop by Lipscomb’s Anna Follece sliced it to five at 39-34 late in the third quarter. But McMinn answered with an 8-1 run to get back on easy street.
“That’s the mark of a good team, being able to answer every time someone makes a charge at them, and McMinn did that,” Ernie Smith said. “What I’m really proud of is that we stayed with it, kept fighting, never gave up. This team has grown so much during the season.”
Both teams shot extremely well. McMinn hit 25-of-39 (64 percent), headed by Massengil’s 8-of-10. Lipscomb landed 18-of-32 (63 percent).
But Lipscomb had a hard time getting good inside shots due to the dominant duo and foul trouble for Lipscomn post player Lillie Grace Ellenburg. Ellenburg didn’t score her first points until 4:06 was left and she finished with five. Chelsee Fields came off the bench and scored six.
Looking ahead, there is cause for optimism for Lipscomb.
“We’re very young, no seniors,” Smith said. “Last summer at UT camp, Loren got a concussion, and she was really out of it. But she worked so hard to get herself back. We all grew as a team. We’re still a work in progress and we should continue to get better next season.”
• All-star game: The Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association (TACA) and Basketball Coaching Association of Tennessee (BCAT) girls all-star game will be held 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro.
Among those committed to playing are Nashville area stars Isabelle Harrison of Hillsboro, Kyla Kersetter of Brentwood High and two-time DII Miss Basketball finalist Taylor Reece of Brentwood Academy.