East Hamilton's girls were in position to be the No. 2-seeded team in the District 5-AAA high school basketball tournament most of the regular season, but a late-season loss to Cleveland meant the Lady Hurricanes had to win their last two games to get it. They took care of the first part Friday by beating neighborhood rival Ooltewah.
They took care of the second part Monday, getting payback for an earlier loss at McMinn County by defeating the Lady Cherokees 48-28 at East Hamilton.
No. 2-ranked Bradley Central (26-0, 12-0) cruised to the regular-season district title. No. 9 East Hamilton (23-4, 8-4) now joins the Bearettes as the teams to get byes into the tournament semifinals, which means an automatic berth in the Region 3 tournament.
Cleveland (15-11) also finished the district season 8-4, but East Hamilton won a coin flip between the two at the district seeding meeting, so the Lady Raiders will be seeded third.
McMinn County (13-10) had a chance at improving its fate but ends up playing fellow 6-6 team Walker Valley (15-9). The winner of that gets Bradley.
"If we'd have won we'd have been third," McMinn coach Tim McPhail said. "Now we're going to have to play Walker Valley on their home court in an elimination game."
East Hamilton was without guard Maleah Moon, who injured a knee in the one-point overtime loss to Cleveland. And although East Hamilton coach Hunter Gremore praised her as a top-notch on-ball defender, his defense was plenty good, holding the Lady Cherokees to one field goal each in the second and fourth quarters.
"This reminded me a whole lot of how we played last year," Gremore said. "It was a grind-it-out, physical, half-court game that's low-scoring. We're a little bit bigger now. I'm playing (Kaiyana) Suttles and (Eliziah) LaBoo at the same time, which we've done before, but not 32 minutes."
They didn't make it 32 minutes Monday, either, with LaBoo fouling out with 4:29 to play. But not before she gave leading scorer Madison Hayes (19 points) some scoring support with 10 points, and the Lady 'Canes were up by 18 when she exited.
McPhail said he would think holding the opposition to fewer than 50 points would give his team a chance to win, but that wasn't even close to being the case. McMinn's top scorer was Hannah Burns with eight points off the bench.
"Our inability to score has been our issue the last three weeks," McPhail said. "We just can't seem to find the basket right now. They're a very good defensive rebounding team. There aren't many second-chance opportunities against them."
DII-A East regional
The Division II-A East Region tournament begins tonight with quarterfinals.
Notre Dame's No. 1-seeded girls from District 2 and the second-seeded Notre Dame boys host District 1's King's Academy girls and Christian Academy of Knoxville boys at 6 and 7:30. Also from District 2, Chattanooga Christian's No. 2-seeded girls and CCS's top-seeded boys host Knoxville Grace Christian's girls and King's Academy's boys, also at 6 and 7:30.
Grace Academy's girls travel to District 1 champion Knoxville Webb for a game at 5:30. Boyd-Buchanan's boys play at 7 at Grace Christian, the District 1 champion. Silverdale Baptist Academy is on the road in the other games, the girls playing at 6 at CAK and the boys playing at Knoxville Webb at 7:30.
Semifinals will be Friday at Notre Dame with the first girls' game starting at 4 and the last boys' game scheduled for 8:30. Notre Dame also hosts third-place games and championships Saturday at 1, 2:30, 4 and 5:30 with girls' games first.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.