2020 Girls’ Class A Sectional Oneida   43   Cloudland   41 Putback at buzzer puts brakes on Lady Highlanders state dreams

Published 1:22 am Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Cloudland Lady Highlanders made the long trip to Oneida for the Girls’ Class A Sectional contest against the Oneida Lady Indians looking to earn one of eight berths to the TSSAA State Girls’ Class A Basketball Championship at Middle Tennessee State University.
With things not going to well in the opening half finding themselves behind by eight at the end of the first quarter and by 10 at the intermission, 23-13, the Lady Highlanders didn’t falter in showing the resilience that led them to this contest in the first place fighting back to tie the score 41-41 with the clock ticking down in regulation.
Unfortunately for the Lady Highlanders, Oneida’s Chelsea Newport managed to get off a rebounded shot with 0.1 seconds to send the Lady Indians to the state tournament with a 43-41 win.
The opening eight minutes may have been the difference as the Lady Highlanders couldn’t get off on a good foot offensively falling behind 12-4 at the first stop in a place that is very hard to play at.
Mandy Benfield scored two points in the opening quarter with Jasmine Birchfield and Gracie Freeman connecting on 1-of-2 free throws each.
The second quarter saw the Cloudland offense start to click as they would score nine points in the period but still find themselves trailing by 10 at the break.
Jasmine Birchfield scored four points in the stanza with Heaven Caraway connecting on a trey for three points. Benfield added two more to her scoring column as well.
Whatever message that Cloudland head coach Matt Birchfield delivered at the break was received by his team as the Lady Highlanders returned to the court in the third period and shaved the lead to only three points for the Lady Indians at the end of the quarter trailing only 31-28 heading into the final eight minutes of play in regulation.
Jasmine Birchfield continued to find the bottom of the net adding eight more points to her tally in the period. Freeman connected on a three-ball while Caraway and Benfield added two points each to close the gap.
With everyone in the gym holding their collective breath, the game played out with both teams fighting with all they had to earn the victory before Newport sealed the win for the Lady Indians with her score.
Jasmine Birchfield finished with a team-high 17 points to lead Cloudland. Benfield played a solid offensive game adding 10 points with Freeman closing out with nine points.
Caraway balanced the scoresheet with five points.
The Lady Highlanders closed out their season with a solid 25-7 record overall.

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