ELIZABETHTON – The Greeneville girls had to battle to the final buzzer and beyond on Monday night, but in a do or die game they were able to keep their season going.
The Lady Devils played from in front for most of the night, but Cocke County never made it easy. The Lady Red even used a buzzer beater to force overtime, but in the extra period Greeneville got tougher on the way to a 75-68 win on the Region 1-3A Tournament semifinals.
“Toughness, persistence and senior leadership, that’ what you have to say about tonight,” Greeneville coach Annette Watts said. "Chloe Marsh led us on tonight. She took good care of us. Everybody played within themselves and did the things they needed to do, and then they played really, really tough down the stretch.”
The Lady Devils advance to the region championship game where they will meet Elizabethton on its home court on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Both Greeneville and Elizabethton will advance to Saturday’s state sectionals. The winner on Wednesday will play the Region 2-3A runner up at home, the loser with travel to the Region 2-3A champion. Halls and Seymour will play for the Region 2-3A championship on Wednesday.
Greeneville started the fourth quarter leading 50-47 and that quickly grew on the opening possession when Lauren Bailey used an artful workaround in the post for a lay in.
With 4:52 left Bailey shook a defender on the right wing and stepped back for a triple that pushed the advantage to 57-51, but then over the next 29 seconds the Miss Basketball finalist picked up her fourth and fifth fouls.
In first half Bailey missed all of the second quarter while in foul trouble, and then she was ineligible for the final 4:23 of the fourth quarter and all of overtime. While having Bailey on the floor would have made things much easier Watts is hopeful her team learned from having to play without her in key moments.
“It is huge for this team to know going forward that when Lauren gets in foul trouble that we are still ok,” Watts said. “You don’t know how much time you have left in the season, but I think that was a very valuable experience.”
In Bailey’s stead Chloe Marsh took over for the Lady Devils. Things got uncomfortable in the late stretches as the Lady Red inched closer, but Marsh was able to make plays on defense and grab the most critical of rebounds to keep the game moving in favor of Greeneville. In addition to that Marsh led the offense with 20 points, including going 10-of-10 at the foul line.
“Chloe kind of steadied us tonight and kept us where we needed to be,” Watts said. “She just wasn’t going to lose, it’s as simple as that.”
After Bailey went out Greeneville could have put the game away at the free-throw line, but instead went 1-for-8 on free tosses over a 3:58 stretch. Marsh broke the streak by making two critical charity tosses with 5.5 seconds remaining to boost the Lady Devils lead to 62-59.
Cocke County then went the length of the floor and Blake Clevenger got a leaning runner to go in from beyond the arc to tie the game 62-62 and force overtime.
In the extra period it was defense that made the difference. Shaw led the way on the perimeter while Marsh and Lindy Carter anchored the post.
Shaw’s defensive dominance was not limited to the final period, but all night long she got her hands on the ball often enough to break up the Lady Red’s rhythm and she made it almost impossible to find the right angles to slip the ball to Paige Niethammer on the block.
“Anna is just a pest, and she reads things so well. She runs our offense, and to me she played a terrific game. I don’t know how many free throws she missed, and I don’t care,” Watts said.
On the offensive end Tambryn Ellenburg nailed a triple from the corner to give Greeneville a 67-63 lead. That was enough to allow the Lady Devils to play from in front while the rest of their damage was done at the free-throw line to secure the win.
On the day Greeneville attempted 37 free throws, sinking 24 of them. Cocke County was at 15-of-27 from the stripe in a game that had 54 fouls called.
In the first quarter both teams traded buckets while the lead proved tough to hang on to. Greeneville gained the first advantage at 4-0 when Ellenburg sent up a hook shot from the right block.
The lead went to Cocke County when Halle Kitchen knocked down a three-pointer to make it 7-6, and Niethammer put the Lady Red up 9-8 on a put back.
Dalaina Martin scored three points the hard way to give Greeneville a 13-9 lead, and Marsh scored the final four points of the period to give Greeneville a 19-14 lead.
Kyla Jobe came off the bench and sank a pair of jumpers from the lane to push Greenville’s advantage to 23-16 early in the second quarter. Jobe gave the Lady Devils a big spark on Monday with 13 points, including nine in the first half while Bailey and Carter had to sit with foul trouble.
“That stretch was big, and she can come in and give us that,” Watts said. “She can jump so high that she shoots over people, but then in the second half they got physical with her, and that’s what she has to work on.”
Niethammer closed the gap the 23-21 with a triple for Cocke County, but then Marsh went on a tear in which she scored eight straight points. Jobe gave Greeneville’s its biggest lead at 34-24 when she knocked down a triple with 1:32 left in the first half.
Greeneville led 36-29 at halftime.
Cocke County closed the gap 40-38 with 5:10 left in the third quarter when Addison McNealy hit from deep in the left corner.
After that point the teams spent the rest of the third quarter trading buckets, but Bailey scored eight of her 17 points in the period to keep the Lady Devils in front.
Clevenger led Cocke County on Monday with 22 points while Niethammer had 20, but only four of those were scored in the paint.
Greeneville 19 17 14 12 13 75
Cocke County 14 15 18 15 6 62
Greeneville: Marsh 20, Bailey 17, Jobe 13, Shaw 9, Carter 6, Ellenburg 5, Martin 5
Cocke County: Clevenger 22, Niethammer 20, McNealy 14, Kitchen 3, Reed 3, Moore 5, Reese 1