ATHENS, Tenn. - McMinn Central girls' basketball coach Johnny Morgan already has the reigning Miss Basketball winner to handle any deficiencies his team might have in scoring.
Yet time and time again, he'll stress the importance of defense. It was the difference Monday night.
Elizabeth Masengil scored 26 points and the Chargerettes advanced to the Region 3-AA final with a 51-44 victory over Meigs County at McMinn County High School. That also assured the Chargerettes of a return to a state sectional.
McMinn Central (28-3) limited the Lady Tigers to 13 field goals.
"I think when you hold a team to 13 points in a half, when they shoot as well as they do, is big," Morgan said. "We don't always score off of our defense, but it's good, and when we play good defense, we're pretty good."
Masengil hit 10 of 13 free throws in the game, but Morgan highlighted 3-point baskets by Haylee Morrow and Sidni Williams in the final 1:37 of the third quarter as a big difference. They pushed an eight-point lead to 37-24 and gave the Chargerettes some breathing room as the Lady Tigers trimmed a 17-point lead to seven on three occasions in the fourth period.
Emileigh Swafford scored 16 points for the Lady Tigers (25-7), while Brandi Kilpatrick added 12. Meigs, usually solid from 3-point range, was limited to one 3 by Angel Davis.
"It doesn't matter if it's a pretty win or an ugly win. I've never seen an ugly win," Morgan said. "We played tough. Meigs is a good team, and I'm happy we got the win because it gets us one step closer to state."