GALLATIN — Beech will play for the District 9-AAA tournament championship on Wednesday, February 24 at Lebanon High School following the Lady Bucs’ 52-44 win over host Gallatin High School Tuesday evening.
Leading 10-9 at the end of the first quarter, Beech outscored Gallatin 21-8 in the second frame, including a 12-0 run before a Jeremia Montgomery free throw with 4:20 left in the first half snapped a nearly six minute dry spell for the Lady Wave.
In that span, Beech converted six consecutive fast break layups off Gallatin turnovers forcing Jerry Landers to call a timeout to try and settle his crew down.
“We didn’t take good care of the ball, particularly in that second quarter, and we really struggled because of it,” Landers said. “They were able to establish themselves defensively and force us out of what we were trying to do in that first half.”
Beech carried a 31-17 advantage into the locker room, but a 15-10 advantage for the Lady Wave in the third frame cut Beech’s deficit to only 41-32. In the third quarter, Gallatin trimmed the Beech lead to as little as seven points, but couldn’t get over the hump during the quarter.
Beech continued to control the glass to start the fourth quarter, getting back-to-back offensive rebounds and put back layups.
“It seemed like every time there was a loose ball tonight it ended up in their hands,” Landers said. “We did a good job giving ourselves a chance late, but we couldn’t get over the hump.”
Gallatin trimmed the Beech lead to as little as five points in the final quarter, 49-44, with 1:25 remaining, but couldn’t hold Beech off the glass as the Lady Bucs secured three consecutive offensive rebounds off missed free throws. The one rebound Gallatin did collect resulted in a turnover and more free throw opportunities for the Lady Bucs.
Beech sealed the win with a Natasia Jones free throw and layup as time expired.
The win pushes Beech into the district title game against Lebanon, where they will face the Devilettes for the third year in-a-row.
“It’s always a competitive, tight game between us and Lebanon,”Beech head coach Lauran Elkins said. “It’s been tough coming back after 11 days off but we have done well. We get to see how much gas we have left in the tank tomorrow night.”
Elkins adds she feels her team is battle-tested and ready for wherever is thrown their way.
“I do believe we are on the right track,” she said. “This time of year you are either going up or going down and I feel like we are going up.”
Gallatin will face off against Green Hill in the consolation game on Wednesday night.
Gallatin and Green Hill will travel to District 10-AAA starting on Friday while the Lady Bucs will host District 10-AAA.