McKENZIE – Two district champions met Thursday night at Bethel’s Crisp Arena with a larger trophy on the line.
When the final buzzer sounded, District 14-A’s Gibson County Lady Pioneers had defeated 13-A’s Dresden Lady Lions 69-54 to clinch the Region 7-A championship.
Gibson County will now get to host Monday’s sectional game against Riverside, and Dresden will travel to Middleton.
Both teams can advance to the state tournament with a win.
“I thought we were a little sluggish early, but once we got into the flow of the game, I thought our character showed and the girls made big plays when they had to,” said Gibson County coach Mitch Wilkins. “I’m very proud of the performance they gave tonight.”
The key difference was Gibson County’s free throw shooting. The Lady Pioneers were a perfect 17-of-17 at the line in the fourth quarter.
“That’s something we work on every day, and we usually do hit our free throws,” said Wilkins.
Despite the game’s final score, it was Dresden who got off to a hot start.
Jacqueline Ellis came off the bench to score nine points in the first quarter for the Lady Lions, and Dresden led 19-15 after the opening period.
Dresden held the lead until late in the second quarter when tournament MVP Briana Fields hit back-to-back baskets to put the Lady Pioneers up 30-27 at halftime.
Gibson County opened the second half quickly with a 12-4 run that was capped by an Erin Lannom 3-pointer.
The Lady Pioneers threatened to pull away, but Dresden managed to hang around, mainly due to its nine 3-pointers in the game.
The game remained competitive until late in the fourth quarter, when the Lady Pioneers’ free throw shooting became too much for the Lady Lions to overcome.
Fields led Gibson County with 22 points, Lannom had 20 points, and Allie Smithson added 11.
Ellis led Dresden with five 3-pointers and 18 total points, and Carrie Hatchel had 17 points.