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What is: Jefferson County claims District 2-AAA girls title over Morristown West

Jefferson County girls basketball coach Rick Sinard (center) is mobbed by his team during the aftermath of the Lady Patriots upset of Morristown West in the District 2-AAA tournament championship game Monday night.
Published: 12:11 AM, 02/18/2014 Last updated: 1:58 AM, 02/18/2014

Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

DANDRIDGE---There were no what ifs this time around for Jefferson County.

After losing twice to Morristown West after bad second halves in the regular season, the Lady Patriots commanded the second half in Monday night's District 2-AAA girls championship game on their home floor.

The Lady Patriots held Morristown West without a field goal for a 10-minute period and then withstood a furious rally by the state's fourth-ranked Lady Trojans to claim the District 2-AAA title by a 59-50 score.

"(At halftime) we talked about the last two games, we were doing a lot of things right, and we knew they were going to make a run," Jefferson County coach Rick Sinard said. "But I told them, 'Let's don't walk off that court thinking what if.'

"I told them to play every play as hard as we can so there were no what ifs, and they did that for the most part," Sinard said.

Morristown West jumped out to a 20-16 lead 4:55 before halftime, but over the next 9:55, the Lady Patriots went on a 17-1 run to take a 33-21 lead with three minutes to play in the third quarter.

"It wasn't like they were taking it from us, but we were dong it to ourselves," Morristown West coach Johnny Galyon said of his squad's offensive struggles. "We had quick shots, unforced turnovers and a lot of missed free-throws and when you miss two free throws, it's like a turnover."

Galyon thought his young squad was pressured into taking a number of quick shots which got them out of their rhythm in the game. Morristown West played a number of underclassmen and also is playing without point guard Abbe Craine (knee)

"It's tough, but we'll bounce back," Galyon said. "We've had a good year, playing two to three freshmen at a time and losing our point guard to an ACL.

"You go through a season like that and lose three times, you're happy, but in our program, you've got to be at the top to please everybody," Galyon said.

Brooke Taylor was an instrumental part of the Lady Patriots offensive assault in the third period. Taylor, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, finished the night with 16 points. Taylor missed most of last season after tearing her ACL in a December 2012 game at Cocke County.

Despite trailing by 12, the Lady Trojans rallied over the last three minutes of the third quarter to pull within two possessions. Sydney Newsome scored five points in the three-minute stretch, in which the Lady Trojans outscored Jefferson County 9-1.

The energy however was lost, as the Lady Patriots recovered to start the fourth quarter. Morristown West fell behind nine after a pair of quick buckets in the opening seconds of the period, before Newsome brought them to within six with a 3-pointer at the 7:08 mark.

Morristown West got as close as 43-38 with 5:21 to play, but a crucial steal and score by Tori Griffin pushed the lead back to nine to quell the Lady Trojans rally.

The loss won't make things easy on Morristown West, who will now be staring at a possible Region 1-AAA semifinal date with the state's second ranked Science Hill Lady Hilltoppers.

"We've had a really good season and we can't base it on one game, but it was a pretty important game to lay an egg (in) and we definitely laid an egg tonight," Galyon said.

Emotions were on the other end of the spectrum on the opposite sideline. The aftermath of the victory left Sinard, the former boys basketball coach at the school, visibly emotional. In the seconds after the win, he buried his head in his hands on the bench and wept.

"People don't understand what you go through in a season with these kids," Sinard said. "You're with them every day, and you appreciate their parents letting you be a small part of their lives and when you see them successful - it gets to you sometimes.

"They've come a long way since last year," Sinard said. "It's not been a bed of roses, it's been hard and I stay on them and expect a lot out of them."

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