Christiana Middle’s goal each game is to jump out to an early lead and make other teams panic.
The Lady Cougars accomplished that goal as they defeated Stewarts Creek 39-33 in the championship game of the Rutherford County Middle School Basketball Tournament Thursday.
Top-seeded and undefeated Christiana raced out to a 9-0 lead halfway through the first quarter. The Lady Falcons, who were the No. 3 seed, couldn’t recover.
“I say every game, you’ve got to come out, and you’ve got to jump on top of people. Our goal is to make their team call the first timeout,” Christiana coach Cory Bransford said. “They called timeout first, and that’s our first victory.”
They did manage to get the lead back to four three times later in the game, but each time the Lady Cougars had a someone step up to keep the momentum on their side.
The Lady Falcons cut the gap back to 19-15 near the end of the first half, but Amanda Whittington hit a free throw and Brylee Puckett scored on a jumper to end the half, giving Christiana a 22-15 lead at the break.
Stewarts Creek got it down to 29-25 at the end of the third quarter, but Puckett knocked down a 3-pointer to up the lead back to seven.
It was 35-31 in the final minute when Whittington scored two free throws, and Correna Ellis scored a basket, the final one of the game.
“We’d cut into it and make a couple of mistakes and cut into it and they’d get an offensive rebound or a three,” Stewarts Creek coach Matt Sanders said. “They’re a good team. You’ve got to play mistake-free to beat them.”
It was a balanced scoring attack for Christiana. Puckett had 10, Ellis scored nine, Alexis Whttington had seven, Amanda Whittington scored six and Faith Lokey had five.
“We’ve got two really good players in Amanda Whittington and Alexis Whittington, and they’ve got a lot of really good girls around them,” Bransford said. “This team is a family. Every timeout we’re saying ‘family.’ I’m very proud of every one of them.”
“(Coach said) To go out and play defense and not give up,” Amanda Whittington said.
Stewarts Creek’s Morgan McCrary had 14 points and Brinae Alexander scored 12.
Blackman 50, Oakland 43: Twice, Blackman built leads and Oakland came back and tied the game. Blackman led 21-14 at the half but Oakland came back and tied it at 26. Blackman went back up 33-28 and Oakland came back to tie it at 36-all.
But the Lady Flame had the final run, outscoring Oakland 8-0 in the fourth quarter to take control of the game for good.
Ja’Leah Goff led Blackman with 17 points. Jaida Bond had nine.
Sydney Gibson scored 13 for Oakland. Kayce Howard and Kaici Bivens each had 10 points.
Christiana 39, Stewarts Creek 33
S – 3 12 10 8 — 33
C – 12 10 7 10 — 39
Stewarts Creek – Brylee Puckett 10, Ellis 9, Al. Whittington 7, Am. Whittington 6, Lokey 5. Christiana – Morgan McCrary 14, Brinae Alexander 12, Dortch 4, Watson 3.