UPDATE: The Lionettes defeated Sequoyah 62-60 to head back to Girl's State. Cannon County faces Martin Luther King at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at MTSU's Murphy Center.
By DAVID HUNTER, The Cannon Courier
The Cannon County girls basketball team is one win away from advancing back to the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament, but they've got to beat either Sequoyah or McMinn Central at Robert A. Harris Gymnasium tonight (Wednesday) in front of the home fans. The Lionettes are in the middle of a magical run through the postseason.
Coming into the district tournament a couple of weeks ago, hardly anybody gave CCHS a chance considering they finished the regular season at 19-9, 6-8 and they earned the No. 5 seed. In order to advance back to state, the Lionettes would have to run through the same district rivals, which beat them handily during the regular season.
After the District 8AA tournament finals were cancelled, because of winter weather on Feb. 21. It was time for the Region 4AA tournament, which started a couple of days later at home against Bledsoe County.
The Lionettes jumped out to an 18-3 advantage during the first quarter, which included a trey by Kellie Davis and a coast-to-coast layup by senior Erin McReynolds. The Lady Warriors were held without a field goal in the first quarter until less than minute left. CCHS took control after the opening quarter, and it rolled to an easy 65-38 victory to stay alive in the postseason. CCHS head coach Michael Dodgen was able to rest his starters after the third quarter.
"It was all about teamwork," Davis said after the win. "We all moved the ball well and we looked for each other for the most open shot we could get."
Senior Kendra Maynard added, "It was really important, because I am a senior I do not want to give it up that easy. I want to make the team work for it, and if they beat us, they beat us.
Davis and Maynard each had 15, while Autumn King added 14 and McReynolds chipped in with 11.
A couple of nights later, CCHS headed back to Cookeville for the rest of the region tournament. The Lionettes had to defeat Upperman in the region semifinals in order to survive and advance. During the regular season, the Lady Bees dominated the Lionettes, but when it counted the most, CCHS got it done with a narrow 40-37 victory. McReynolds led the way with 15 points, while Maynard added 12 in the win.
On Feb. 21, CCHS and Murfreesboro Central Magnet were supposed to meet in the District 8AA finals, but Mother Nature won out, and the game was cancelled. However, six days later, the weather was better and the two teams met this time for the Region 4AA title and a chance to host a sectional game tonight.
Once again, MCMS dominated CCHS during the regular season, but the Lionettes once again got its revenge when it counted the most with a 50-45 win over the Lady Tigers.
Davis led the way with 20 points and she was named Region Tournament MVP. Maynard, Kristen Hale and McReynolds were named to the All-Tournament team.
"We have been pretty lucky," Dodgen said of the magical run during the past two weeks. "Just to be able to play the way we have played over the last two weeks, these kids have a lot of fight in them and go get em in them. It has been an unbelievable experience and ride over the last two weeks. We still got one more to go to get the ultimate dream of every kid and coaches position in high school basketball."
A win tonight advances the Lionettes to another state tournament, which starts Wednesday at MTSU, but a loss ends their dreams. It has been one heck of a ride during these past two weeks for the Lionettes.