JASPER, Tenn. - Experience took its toll early, paving the way for the Marion County girls' basketball team to advance Friday to the Region 3-A semifinals with a 71-45 victory over Silverdale Baptist Academy.
The Lady Warriors, who have two senior starters back from last year's team that came one step shy of reaching the state tournament, jumped to a 31-8 first-quarter lead and maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
"We shot the lights out early and then got lazy for a stretch," Marion coach Randy Ellis said. "Silverdale is a good team, they're dangerous and they fought back and made us a little nervous there for a while.
"It's a good thing ugly ain't a foul, or we would have been in trouble in the second half. But we got it in the right hands when we needed to and the only thing that matters is we advance."
Marion County (20-9) will play Copper Basin in the semifinals Monday at Signal Mountain.
After trailing by 20-plus points for much of the first half, Silverdale closed within 12 midway through the third quarter before Marion's all-state senior guard Keta Robinette took control. Her steal and layup started an 8-0 scoring run in which she accounted for six points.
The game featured two of the area's top guards in Robinette and Silverdale sophomore Mariah Massengill, both of whom rank among the area's top five in scoring, assists and steals. Robinette finished with 21 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds and six steals, while Massengill had 25 points, six assists and three steals.
"I figured coming in that she would try to outscore me," Robinette said. "I don't get bothered by that kind of stuff. I just play my game, try to be patient and do whatever it takes to help us win. I don't get caught up in that other stuff or worry about who scores the most or whatever.
"That first quarter really calmed us down, and we never really got too worried after that."
With the Seahawks' box-and-one concentrating on Robinette, five other Lady Warriors scored during a 23-0 first-quarter run that essentially put the game out of reach.