TRAFFIC JAM — Union City’s Tory Reedy is fouled as she tries to dribble between Clarkrange’s Tesia Dailey (34) and Lindsey Crabtree in the first half of their TSSAA Class A Girls’ State Tournament game today at Murfreesboro.
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
MURFREESBORO — Be it gold or silver, the Union City girls will bring home a big ball from the Class 1A state tournament.
The No. 1-ranked Lady Tornadoes’ record-setting season will end one way or the other when they play for the Single-A championship Saturday afternoon after whipping fourth-ranked Clarkrange 50-32 in the second of two semifinals today.
The 4 p.m. title game will be a matchup of the top two teams in the final Associated Press rankings as No. 2 Jackson County secured its spot with a 54-32 triumph over Madison earlier today. Both teams will enter the contest with identical 32-3 records.
UC, which has already won nine more games this year than it has an any previous season and 21 in a row, will be seeking its first modern-era girls’ basketball state championship, though the school counts a 1925 title in a non-affiliated TSSAA tournament. The Twister girls made the semifinals a year ago — their best previous showing in a TSSAA-sanctioned event.
Jackson County, meanwhile, will be gunning for its eighth state title in its illustrious history. The Lady Blue Devils claimed the last of those championships in 2010 and would tie Clarkrange for the second most titles of any program in the state behind only Shelbyville, which has 12, with a Saturday triumph.
The Lady Tornadoes played likely their best all-around game of the postseason vs. quality competition today against Clarkrange.
Union City, which shot 58.8 percent (10-of-17) in the second half and 46 percent for the game (17-of-37), ran off 12 unanswered points to break away from a 4-all tie late in the first quarter and led the rest of the way.
The Lady Tornadoes dominated Clarkrange (27-9) on the glass, 31-16, and had eight more offensive rebounds than the Lady Buffaloes.
Tory Reedy, continuing to progress from a virus that hospitalized her earlier in the week and caused her to lose 13 pounds, led UC with 19 points — making half her total field goal attempts (5-of-10), including 3-of-6 3-pointers. She also made 6-of-7 free throws and grabbed seven rebounds.
Raven Fair continued her solid play with 14 markers, while Jackie Hudson finished with nine points and six boards. Tamara Nettles yanked down a team-high eight caroms.
“Without a doubt, it was the best we’ve played in all facets in the postseason,” Union City head coach Eddie Suiter confirmed afterward. “I tell the girls all the time, if we defend like we’re capable, we can play with anybody. If we defend like we can and make shots, we can beat people by 20 points.”
The Lady Twisters limited Clarkrange to just four first-half field goals and just 36 percent shooting (12-of-33) for the game. The Lady Buffaloes were forced into 16 turnovers, 11 in the second half.
Union City made 4-of-5 shots to start the second period and ran its streak of consecutive points to 12 after TauiNeiscia Skinner scored at the first-quarter buzzer to give her team a 6-4 edge.
Reedy and Fair both drained big 3-pointers in the first 100 seconds of the second frame, before Reedy and Hudson scored from the lane to make it 16-4 at the 5:12 mark.
Reedy hit twice more from long range in the third quarter — the first after Clarkrange had drawn within 16-13 in the first 30 seconds after the intermission.
The lead was never smaller than 10 in the fourth quarter.