If Tessa Gibson is on the basketball court, the Silverdale Baptist Academy standout means business.
The Lady Seahawks once again rallied around their senior point guard, who had eight assists in Friday's 49-36 home win against Boyd Buchanan to win the Division II-A East District 2 championship. It was the program's third straight district title and 32nd straight win over league foes.
This is also the third straight season Silverdale has won 21 games, a span in which Gibson has averaged more than five assists per game. Her skill running the offense is one reason she received special recognition after the title win.
"To be honest, I was a little surprised when they announced I had won the district player of the year award," Gibson said. "I have never really had a big scoring role, but I always look to create opportunities for my teammates. I am really grateful for the honor and couldn't have done it without my teammates, who I am very confident in to finish when I get them the ball."
The Lady Seahawks started this season on the wrong foot with a devastating injury to Laney Bone, a Buffalo signee, in the season opener. Losing their top scorer has forced others to step up in their roles, including freshman Kelsie Johnson, who got rolling early against Boyd Buchanan as she drained a 3-pointer and sped out in transition to receive a spot-on pass over the top of the defense from Gibson before finishing with a basket.
Dani Reeves scored 14 points and was a force driving into the lane for the Lady Buccaneers, who trailed 26-22 at halftime, but Johnson helped Silverdale create separation on the scoreboard.
After a strip steal by Claire Bolton, the Lady Seahawks' bench and crowd erupted when Johnson made a 3-pointer for a 38-26 lead with 1:50 left in the third quarter. Tori Gibson and Ryleigh Hoover each hit a pair of 3-pointers in big spots, too.
Johnson was voted the district tournament MVP as she scored 25 points with five 3-pointers in two games.
"We actually pulled Kelsie up as an eighth grader last season," Silverdale coach Victor Underwood said. "It didn't translate to a lot of minutes then, but she wouldn't have been able to do what she did tonight if she didn't have that year of preparation versus older competition. She has come a long way and we are proud of her."
Silverdale's Becca Lamb added 10 points (six in the fourth quarter) and 11 rebounds, and Gracie Renegar provided stellar defense during a game in which players from both sides hustled.
"Every person on this team has contributed," Tessa Gibson said. "We are set on trying to make a deep run. We want to win, and we are going to keep going until we can't."
Both the Lady Seahawks and Boyd Buchanan will host must-win region quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Monday.
Notre Dame 48, Grace Academy 19: The Lady Fighting Irish jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter, and junior Kenzie Campbell finished with a game-high 17 points in the DII-A East 2 consolation game. For Grace, Savannah Englebrecht finished with 10 points, all but one from 3-pointers.
Signal Mountain 44, Sequatchie County 42: Olivia Koontz helped the Lady Eagles to a second-half comeback as the future Tennessee Tech post player scored 12 of her 18 points after the break. Janie Kennedy scored eight points after halftime for Signal Mountain (17-3), which extended its winning streak to 11 games. Sequatchie County was led by Hallie Barger (14 points, five steals) and Addy Edgmon (10 points, nine rebounds).
Sale Creek 44, Soddy-Daisy 41: The Lady Panthers (15-6) were sparked to victory by Keilyn Morgan, who had nine points, 11 rebounds, seven blocks and five assists. Kayla Phillips led all scorers with 15 and added four steals. For Soddy-Daisy, Cameron Varner was 9-of-10 on free throws.
Tyner 61, Central 45: Five players scored at least eight points for the Rams, and Amarion Dillard (12) and Jovontay Ross (10) led the way for the winners. Central's Donovin Taylor scored a game-high 13 points, and teammate Kenneth Steward added 11 points with three 3-pointers.
Christian Heritage 55, Walker School 49: The Lions finished the regular season 19-2 and completed their Region 7-A private schedule 10-0, and they will be the league's No. 1 seed for the state tournament (the region is not having a tournament). Nash Bingham had 16 points, followed by Jax Abernathy and Cash Hare with 12 each and Zundra Jackson with 10, and Evan Lester grabbed 11 rebounds.
Southeast Whitfield's Riso Webb earned the Class AAAA 126-pound individual title Friday night in Macon at the GHSA traditional state tournament. The senior, after receiving a first-round bye, pinned his next three opponents before winning the title with a 10-6 decision over Flowery Branch's Jarrett Greene.
Friday's competition also included the start of Class AAAAA plus the Class AAAAAA medal rounds, but the event was running well behind schedule by the evening. At press time, the third-place matches and two-thirds of the championship rounds were not complete in those classifications.
That included the Class AAAA 220-pound title match between Heritage's Zach Brown and Southeast's Jose Leon and the 195-pound match featuring Northwest Whitfield's Daiman Banta. Also yet to go was the Class AAAAAA 145-pound title match with Dalton's Hunter Noland.
Class AAAAA: Four of the five Calhoun entrants were still alive after day one of two. Isaac Green lost in the championship semifinal round and is in the consolation semifinals Saturday. Armando Monroy (113), Hayden Harris (182) and Jason Vicente (195) are through to the consolation quarterfinals.
Two of Calhoun's Region 7-AAAAA rivals lead for the team title, with Woodland-Bartow on top with 172.5 points, just ahead of Cass (171).
Compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact MacCoon at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon. Contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.