MURFREESBORO — East Nashville Magnet used consistent free-throw shooting and dominant second-half defense to advance to the Class AA girls basketball semifinals with a 47-35 win over Christ Presbyterian Academy on Thursday.
“It’s very special since we’ve been working for this for about four years,” said East Nashville senior Le’Jzae Davidson, whose squad reached the state for the first time in program history. “This is just basically what we’ve been working on and waiting for, so this is a big moment for us.”
The win put East Nashville (30-2) in an AA semifinal against Westview at 6 p.m. Friday.
After allowing East Nashville to climb out to a 16-11 lead, CPA (26-5) matched the Lady Eagles by ending the first period on a 5-0 run punctuated by a Kenedi Hambrick 3-pointer. East Nashville began the second quarter on a 9-2 run to go ahead 25-18.
The Lady Lions made it a one-point game at halftime with 6-0 run to close the second quarter, but East Nashville came out strong in the second half thanks to a halftime speech from coach Lois Donaldson.
“Coming out in the third quarter, I really think after speaking to them at halftime it really meant something to them and I think they were playing with all heart and guts at that point,” Donaldson said.
Said Davidson: “We just didn’t want it to be over. We just had to focus and keep pushing. Do what we do.”
While CPA was able to answer East Nashville in the first half, the tough Lady Eagles defense dominated the Lady Lions in the second half. CPA managed to score just 11 points in the second half, including four in the final quarter.
“I think in the second half for whatever reason — adrenaline, fatigue — those shots that we normally hit were not falling, even the easy shots,” CPA coach Becky LeGate said. “I think that was a huge factor in this game.”
CPA may have had a chance to pull within striking distance late, but unfortunately for the Lady Lions, East Nashville capitalized and finished 14-of-16 from the free throw line.
“Miracles happen every day,” Donaldson said jokingly.
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN