ATHENS, Tenn. -- If McMinn Central was trying to wear down Sequoyah on Monday in the championship game of the District 5-AA high school basketball tournament at McMinn County, perhaps it worked. But if the Lady Chiefs were trying to wear down the Chargerettes' Elizabeth Masengil, for certain that didn't work.
Doing most of her damage from the free-throw line, Masengil scored 27 points and lifted McMinn Central past Sequoyah 66-39.
Meigs County beat Polk County 61-39 in the consolation game.
The district title is the seventh consecutive for the Chargerettes, who last year won the school's only state championship to date. McMinn Central (21-7) now moves on to the Region 3 tournament, where it will host Chattanooga Central in one of Friday's quarterfinals.
Sequoyah will play Friday at home against Tyner in another quarterfinal.
The Chargerettes gave an indication it might be a blowout by scoring the game's first 14 points, but the Lady Chiefs didn't fade away so quickly. Actually they battled back within six points briefly late in the first quarter and, after falling back behind by as many as 14, trimmed the deficit to six twice early in the second half.
"We were not patient," McMinn Central coach Johnny Morgan said of why his team's offense sputtered at times. "We were running down and taking quick shots. When we're patient, that's when we can score. If we move the ball and look for open shots, that's when we're effective. A lot of times we're looking to get into our offense and make one pass, and usually that one pass, we're trying to jam it in there."
The Chargerettes were ahead 35-28 before stretching the margin to 11 by the end of the third quarter. But it wasn't until their second period-opening 14-0 run that they seized control completely.
"We play a lot of people," Morgan said. "When we get off to a quick start, that's just a real big plus. If it's tight after a quarter, quarter and a half, we just have to be patient and keep substituting and try to get them tired. I don't know if that's what happened to them or not."
Masengil was limited to four field goals. She did the rest of her scoring from the free-throw line.
She made six of seven in the first half, and then the Lady Chiefs put her on the line 20 times during the second half before Morgan took her out with 3:11 to play with the Chargerettes up by 26. She made 19 free throws in all for 70-percent shooting.
The physical effort wasn't totally uncommon for Masengil, who was chosen the tournament's most valuable player. Morgan isn't even sure if 27 free throws is a career high for the senior.
"She's gotten there several times before," he said of Masengil, who also grabbed 15 rebounds.
Haylee Morrow gave scoring support with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Kelsey Young contributed nine points and six steals.
Hunter Simpson's 14 points topped Sequoyah.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.