Late whistle against GHS ends state tourney dream
Sara Reid — Special to the Weakley County Pres
In a game that was heavy on fouls and light on points, the Middleton Lady Tigers entered the bonus in the fourth quarter and held a 24-22 lead with 44 seconds remaining. Gleason’s Kim Edenfield dribbled the length of the floor and hit a layup to tie the score, but with nine seconds remaining, Sharon Morgan bounded down the court and slammed into waiting Lady Bulldog Taylor Stout who looked to be in position to take the charge. Stout was called for a block, however, and Morgan hit both free throws to give Middleton the 26-24 win in Sectional tournament action this past Saturday night in Gleason, edging them into the TSSAA Class A State Tournament.
“We just fouled too much,” Gleason first-year head coach Joel Ayers admitted. “We got into foul trouble and played a good part of the game with people on the bench. We turned the ball over too much and didn’t execute well in the end. The turnovers and fouls really hurt us.”
Morgan opened scoring in the contest by hitting one of two free throws and Coresia Berry made a shot inside to give the Lady Tigers a 3-0 lead. Sara Hensley quickly erased the deficit with a three, but Tataurus Howser muscled inside for a MHS deuce. Morgan knocked down a three and Stout answered with a two in the paint. Berry was given a wide-open three and connected to make it an 11-5 lead for the visitors.
Shanita Polk checked in for Middleton (29-2), but the visitors were slapped with an administrative technical foul for Polk’s name not being listed in the scorebook. Jenna Frazier hit one of two free throws, Ashley Coble recorded a bucket in the paint and Hensley swished from downtown to tie the contest at 11 at the end of one quarter.
Edenfield, Frazier and Stout powered Gleason to an 18-11 lead to start the second frame. Kristina Elliott scored for the Lady Tigers with 4:15 on the clock and Kaylee Thaxton hit one of two from the line. Polk banked in a desperation three at the buzzer for the Lady Tigers to cut the lead to one, 18-17, at the half.
Hensley opened the third with a layup and Berry answered, but Gleason failed to put up any more points for the quarter.
Morgan drove in for a layup and Middleton held a 21-20 lead. Frazier picked up her fourth foul with 1:56 left in the third and the Lady Tigers held the ball for the remaining time and entered the fourth with the one-point advantage.
Scoring remained at a standstill for both squads as defensive intensity picked up. Middleton entered the bonus and Howser misfired on four straight free throw attempts, leaving the game still very much up in the air. Morgan was fouled on a drive, however, and hit both of her attempts, increasing the lead to 23-20 and scoring the first points for either squad since midway through the third quarter.
Frazier was fouled on a layup attempt and hit both free throws to cut the Middleton lead to one, 23-22, with 50.7 seconds remaining. The Lady Bulldogs resorted to fouling and Morgan missed the front end of a one-and-one charity chance. On the other end, Frazier missed inside hoping for a foul call and Lady Tiger Kristina Elliott was fouled on the rebound. She hit one of two, but Edenfield sprinted the length of the court for a layup to tie the game at 24-all.
With 9.1 seconds left, Morgan took the ball in an attempt to do the same or draw a foul and plowed into Stout with 3.9 seconds left in the one team’s season. The Lady Tigers had hit just 3-of-9 free throw tries in the fourth up to that point, but with the game on the line and orange-clad Gleason fans screaming in her ears, Morgan sank both attempts to give Middleton a 26-24 lead. The ball was inbounded to Edenfield at half court, but the senior lost the handle, a scramble ensued with no fouls called and the clock ran out on Middleton’s victory.
“The bank-in 3-pointer at the end of the first half came back to haunt us,” the first-year coach added. “Along with the fouls and the turnovers, we missed key layups. It was a short game and there weren’t too many mistakes, but in a short game they make a much bigger impact.”
Morgan led all scorers with nine points. Hensley scored eight for Gleason.
The loss ends the high school basketball careers of GHS seniors Kim Edenfield, Jenna Frazier, Taylor Stout, Elizabeth Terrell and Alexis Tipton.
With the win over Gleason and a 52-44 defeat of Humboldt by Scotts Hill, Middleton and Scotts Hill will represent the northwest area of the state in Class A tournament action this week in Murfreesboro.
March 6 at Gleason
Middleton (26) — Sharon Morgan 9, Coresia Berry 7, Kristina Elliott 4, Shanita Polk 3, Tataurus Howser 2, Kaylee Thaxton 1.
Gleason (24) — Sara Hensley 8, Taylor Stout 6, Jenna Frazier 5, Kim Edenfield 3, Ashley Coble 2.
3-pointers: Middleton — Berry, Morgan, Polk; Gleason — Hensley (2).
Records: Middleton 29-2, Gleason 28-3.