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Push It Real Good

Relentless Lady Governors run down Heritage
William Blount’s Amber Click pushes the ball up court against the Lady Mountaineers’ Leah Thomas. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Lindsey Roddy put William Blount ahead to stay with a steal and breakaway basket with just over a minute to play.

Lindsey Roddy glides to the basket ahead of Heritage's Katie Wolfe.

Lindsey Roddy glides to the basket ahead of Heritage’s Katie Wolfe.

Taylor Goforth iced it for the Lady Governors with a pair of free throws with four seconds left, William Blount eliminating Heritage, 55-51, in a District 4AAA quarterfinal Wednesday night at Maryville’s James Campbell Gymnasium.

Mikayla Combs is why William Blount won.

The Lady Governors (21-10) advance to meet top-seed and No. 7-ranked Bearden (26-3) in a Friday semifinal at 4:30. Host Maryville (22-4) tips with Farragut (20-8) in the other semifinal at 6.

Goforth paced William Blount with a team-best 12 points Wednesday, including 4-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. On a balanced night where nine Lady Governors scored, Roddy was next with 11, including a huge third-quarter 3-pointer.

Hannah Fuller, two big 3s in the fourth, added 10 points, Amber Click seven.

Seniors Kassi Knight and Leah Thomas answered the bell in their final game as Lady Mountaineers, finishing with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Thomas, the District 4AAA Player of the Year, knocked down four 3-pointers.

“It was a good rivalry game,” Heritage coach Rick Howard said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight.”

Combs didn’t score a single point, but the Lady Governor forward came away with the biggest rebound of the night. Knight got a good look from 10 feet straight on with 4.6 seconds left, William Blount holding a 53-51 lead.

“She had a great look,” Howard said. “Nine times out of 10 she makes that, and I’d go with it every time. Sometimes you’ve just got to have a little luck.”

Combs squeezed in among a mass of taller players to collect the miss, quickly dishing the ball to Goforth, who put it away at the other end.

Heritage's Kassi Knight boxes out against Roddy.

Heritage’s Kassi Knight boxes out against Roddy.

Getting something from everyone was key, William Blount coach Todd Wright said.

“It’s just been a team effort,” he said, “and the kids have really bought in and played their role. We felt that would give us the best chance.”

Wright continually switched defense throughout, much of it aimed at not letting the versatile Thomas beat them. A box-and-one with Click guarding the Lady Mountaineer playmaker ironically played to Thomas’ strength: She doesn’t force shots.

“She’s a knock-down 3-point shooter and she’s strong taking it to the basket,” Click said. “When she gave it up, our job was to make sure she didn’t get it back.”

William Blount’s varying defenses began to have telling effects after Heritage bolted to a 16-9 lead after a quarter.

“We kept changing defenses, and the girls did a great job of knowing what we were in,” Wright said.

Thomas capped a 10-3 Lady Mountaineer run to start the second, pushing the margin to 26-14, after which the pace of play fell decidedly with the Lady Governors.

“We have a lot of trouble sometimes when it’s just a slow, walk-it-up game,” Wright said. “It was key to keep the tempo up.”

William Blount's Summer Morris lays one in off the break.

William Blount’s Summer Morris lays one in off the break.

From Thomas’ bucket at the 3:18 mark of the second, Heritage tallied three times from the field until a layup from Knight with less than a minute gone in the fourth. With William Blount, down 29-18 at the half, Roddy, Click and Summer Morris pushed the pace to the other end on every Lady Mountaineer miss.

“We like to score more off the fast break,” Roddy said.

Goforth gave the Lady Governors their first lead of the night, 35-34, with three minutes to play in the third. Thomas rallied Heritage with a runner in the lane to get the lead back.

At the 1:34 mark, Goforth found Roddy unattended at the right wing. Roddy hit nothing but netting for a 40-37 William Blount lead.

“I was so wide open I was afraid I would air ball it,” Roddy said, “but it went in.”

Pace, pace, pace and find the open shooter in transition led to Fuller’s fourth-quarter eruption. Her first strike opened a 43-39 William Blount lead with seven minutes remaining.

After a pair of Libby Gardner free throws put Heritage back out front, 45-43, with six minutes left, Fuller hit from way out on the left side, serving notice the Lady Governors were here to stay.

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