WHITWELL, Tenn. - With his team short on size but tall on athletic ability, coach Eric Zensen knew his Whitwell girls needed to control the game's tempo Friday to secure a spot in next week's Region 3-A semifinals. So every chance they got, the Lady Tigers sped things up.
They came at visiting Boyd-Buchanan with waves of pressure until finally pulling away in the second half for a 54-37 win.
"They have good post players inside and we don't really match up down there with them," Zensen said. "We're not blessed with size, but we have girls who can run and some pretty good shooters, so our goal was to make them play fast, and we were able to do that."
The Lady Tigers will play Monday at Arts & Sciences, which beat Richard Hardy. Whitwell trailed just once, and only for 26 seconds midway through the opening quarter before ending the period on a 10-2 run.
After Boyd-Buchanan closed within four early in the second quarter, Whitwell answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Kelsey Kilgore and Tanika Gholston and built a 12-point cushion by halftime.
Kilgore's second of four 3-pointers pushed her over the 1,000-point mark for her career, and she finished with a game-high 14 points.
"It feels even better to do something like that in a game that helped my team move on," Kilgore said. "My team means more than anything I do myself."
Boyd-Buchanan scored the first six points of the second half and trailed by six with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter before the Lady Tigers closed out with six points in a row and put the game away by opening the fourth with consecutive treys from Kilgore and Alyssa Coppinger.
"Kelsey has worked really hard to be a senior leader for us," Zensen said. "She's playing her best basketball now, and that's good for us because we're relying on her a lot. When we needed some big shots to fall for us early, she's the one who got us going."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.