Lady Cyclones move on to Regional Championship after thrilling victory over Volunteer

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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The Lady Cyclones have injected new energy into the old adage “It’s not how you start but how you finish.” The team’s earlier struggles in November and December have seemingly propelled them to unexpected heights. Following their nail-biting victory Monday night over the Lady Falcons, they now turn their focus to the Regional 1-AAA Championship game against Greeneville on Wednesday night. This matchup will mark the third consecutive year the Lady Cyclones and Lady Greene Devils face off in the Regional Finals.

The Lady Cyclones surged to a 22-15 lead in the first period, with Kayelyn Nave igniting her team with a couple of 3-pointers. Despite Volunteer’s persistence, the Lady Cyclones maintained a slight edge, holding a 31-25 lead going into halftime after Michelle Shields hit a crucial 3-pointer in the second period.

The game’s intensity continued in the third period, with Lady Falcon Jaycie Begley sinking pivotal three-pointers to give Volunteer a one-point advantage heading into the final stanza. Nave, Kalli Shepherd, and Jamira Smalls responded with key plays to keep the Lady Cyclones in contention.

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The fourth period began with Michelle Shields driving hard to the basket, scoring an acrobatic shot to regain the lead for the Lady Cyclones. The remainder of the game saw both teams trading blows, with Marlee Mathena, Smalls, and Nave securing critical rebounds. Nave’s charge at the 2:38 mark led to Shields hitting a crucial 3-pointer, giving the Lady Cyclones a 48-47 lead at the 2:00 minute mark. Peyton McGee sealed the victory with four clutch free throws, while Shields deflected a pass from the Lady Falcons in the final seconds to secure a 56-53 win.

Shields finished with 15 points, supported by Mathena and Nave with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Begley led Volunteer with 18 points.

Lady Cyclones Head Coach Lucas Andrews praised his team’s resilience, stating, “Grit, guts, and determination—it’s who we are, it’s who we have been all year. When we needed shots, we stood and delivered. A lot of respect for Volunteer; that’s a very good team.”

The Lady Cyclones now prepare to face the Lady Greeneville Devils, a familiar opponent known for their physicality and speed. Coach Andrews acknowledged Coach Watts and her team’s strengths, emphasizing the need for focus and respect. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM at Claiborne County High School.