Baylor had the hot hand from the outside, but free throw shooting enabled Brentwood Academy to continue defending its Division II-AA state basketball title.
The Lady Eagles (28-1) punched their ticket to the finals with a 69-61 win over Baylor (19-10) in the state semifinals at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena on Thursday.
Brentwood Academy will look to take home its 10th state title when it faces Briarcrest at 1 p.m. Saturday.
It was a back-and-forth game, with Baylor leading 45-43 going into the fourth quarter. The Lady Eagles stormed back to take a 52-50 lead and then relied on free throws to close the game out.
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Brentwood Academy was 30-of-34 from the line and scored 10 of its final 13 points on free throws.
“We’ve been working on them a lot,” coach Rhonda Brown said. We’ve been stressing that a lot in practice.”
Baylor managed to hang around thanks to outside shooting. The Lady Red Raiders shot almost 46 percent (11 of 24) from 3-point range. JuToreyia Willis led the way, sinking a game-high four 3-pointers.
Brentwood Academy freshman and DII-AA Miss Basketball finalist Sydni Harvey led the Lady Eagles with a game-high 25 points. Junior Breuna Jackson added 21 points and Bria Dial netted 14.
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Brentwood Academy’s Sydni Harvey scores in the Lady Eagles’ win over Baylor at Libscomb University on Thursday Feb. 26, 2015 in the DII-AA semifinals.
Harpeth Hall falls short:
Briarcrest (25-9) earned its spot in the title game with a 57-50 win over Harpeth Hall (19-11) on Thursday.
“Briarcrest is a tough matchup,” Harpeth Hall coach Anne Weingartner said. “They’ve got five kids on the court that can handle the ball and be pretty effective in their spread offense.”
For Harpeth Hall, a young team with only two seniors, not having key upperclassmen to rely on in big moments can be a drawback.
“It’s been challenging not to have senior leadership on the court,” Weingartner said. “But we’re young and that’s something to look forward to.”
Two of those young players, Lauren Bars and Raleigh Potts, led the way for the Lady Honeybears, combining for 31 points. Bars scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds while going 12-of-13 at the free throw line.
“That’s big,” Weingartner said. “Most teams’ best free throw shooter are in their guards. But all season long Raleigh and Lauren have been our leading free throw percentage shooters, which is big for us with the amount of fouls that happen down in the post.”
The trip to the semifinals gave the Lady Honeybears confidence in their future.
“I feel like we all know that we are capable,” Potts said. “We have confidence that we can do it, we’ve just got to get over that hump.”
Elyse Holden led Briarcrest with 26 points.