Hampton chases Lady Bobcats up a tree, advances to state semifinals

Published 5:33 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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MURFREESBORO – The Hampton Lady Bulldogs didn’t come to Murfreesboro for the sheer purpose of saying they made it to the state tournament being played at the Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
They came with a fire in their eyes and something to prove as the Lady Bulldogs went bobcat hunting on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the 2023 BlueCross Basketball Championships in Class A and by game’s end, had run the Pickett Co. Lady Bobcats up a tree in taking a 78-64 victory to advance to Friday’s semifinal contest against the winner of Wayne Co. and Dresden.
“We talked at halftime about being a little smarter in the second half and actually in the third quarter, I thought we were a little too complacent and gave them a few little easy baskets,” said Hampton head coach Brandon Carpenter on how his girls were able to weather the storm of a Pickett Co. comeback. “I just thought that if we could get to the fourth quarter and it was a tight game, that these girls would step up and they did.”
Hampton came out of the gates looking comfortable despite it being the first time this group of seniors had ever been to a state tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 24-12 lead at the end of one-quarter of play and led 36-28 at intermission.
Macy Henry’s 11 points in the first half set the pace for Hampton while Piper Helle and Madison McClain got into the scoring column with eight and six points respectively. Ryleigh Nickles was instrumental in giving Carpenter some floor time when three starters were saddled with three fouls apiece as Nickles hit a trey to finish with four points in the half. Linsey Jenkins added a trey while Taylor Berry and Ella Eastep chipped in with a deuce each.
Pickett Co.’s Emerson Lowe led the Lady ‘Cats with eight while Zoey Nicholas added seven.
Coming out of the break, the Lady Bulldogs were timid on the defensive end with their fouls which allowed for the Lady Bobcats to attack the basket.
What once was a 15-point lead for Hampton in the first half turned into a four-point lead by Pickett Co. with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Hampton never wavered and came scratching and clawing back to quickly grab the lead back in outscoring the Lady ‘Cats 29-14 in the fourth quarter to earn the big win.
The victory evened the senior class career record at 65-65 and marks the first time that both the Hampton girls and Hampton boys have been to the state tournament in the same year.
Five Lady ‘Dogs scored in double figures in the game led by Henry’s 19 points. Helle had 17, McClain 14, Jenkins 12, and Berry 10.
Nickles closed out the contest with four while Eastep added two points.
Hampton shot 50% for the game from the floor and 7-of-22 from beyond the arc. The Lady Bulldogs hit 27-of-34 from the charity stripe for a 79.4% clip.
Hampton led for 27:32 of the contest while Pickett Co. had the lead for 3:22. The game was tied twice with seven lead changes.
Nicholas was the leading scorer for Pickett Co. with 21 with Callie Reeder adding 15. Lowe finished with 12.
Friday’s semifinal contest will tip off at 2:15 eastern time with a state championship berth on the line Saturday.

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