PIKEVILLE, Tenn.–When the 2nd-ranked team in the state comes knocking on your door, sometimes only bad things can happen.
Bledsoe County, though, was not an underrated 3- or 4-seed. They simply pulled a bad draw after Livingston Academy upset Upperman in the District 8-AA semifinals after previously losing to Upperman by 18 in the regular season.
So to say that an already stacked district had its seedings mixed up and maxed out was an understatement as Bledsoe County was fed to the wolves, at least on paper.
“It was a tough draw,” Lady Warriors head coach Carlos Davis explained. “We knew when we started the season that if we could get 1st and not have to see Upperman, we could advance. I felt like we could compete with the 2-, 3-, and 4-seeds. When it’s tournament time, you never really know what happens. We obviously got upset in the district championship game. Livingston went into triple-overtime with them, and I would have like to have seen that film to see what they did.”
In the first half, though, Davis’s squad came out virtually unscathe, only trailing the Bees by seven going into the locker room. According to Davis, it was not only the cohesiveness of the team but the mentality they came out with Friday night.
“I told these girls in the locker room before the game that if you win this game, you’re not only going to shock Bledsoe County, but you’re going to shock the entire state,” Davis said. “If I have my guts, Upperman is on their way to winning the gold ball, and through us. To me, it’s going to be a dogfight between them and McMinn Central for the title, depending on how the brackets play out.”
At halftime, the Warriors were not content with the slim deficit, but common sense led to the assumption of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ When something is working against a team of that caliber, there’s not many changes you can make.
“Our defense didn’t change,” Davis continued. “We didn’t make any adjustments at halftime. We ran the same exact defense that we had the first half. IT’s just the fact that…when we would make a pass, instead of the girls coming to help our point guard, they were standing flat-footed. Turnover. Layup. Turnover. Layup. Their rebounding was allowing them to keep possessions going.”
Upperman built on their margin with an extra 13 points in the third quarter before they put things into overdrive late in the fourth. The Bees’ Akira Levy and Gracie Maynard combined for 43 points on the night, which was four more than the entire Bledsoe county squad. Brittany Singleton and Halee Wagner accounted for nine points a piece.
The Warriors end their season at 17-14, which included a 2 and a half month home win streak coupled by an undefeated January with 10 straight victories. They return their entire lineup with no seniors graduating in 2017 and four juniors on the current roster.
And with the changing landscape of high school basketball in Tennessee, the Lady Warriors might have a stellar squad in place for a down year for the elite in girls’ hoops, especially in the midstate.
UHS — 16 | 9 | 20 | 22 || 67
BCHS — 9 | 9 | 7 | 14 || 39
UHS (67) — Akira Levy (23), Gracie Maynard (20), Abby Greenwood (12)
BCHS (39) — Brittany Singleton (9), Halee Wagner (9), Lynnsey Keener (7)