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Hello, Dolly!

Scots plan trip to theme park after winning USA South title
Maryville College junior Lucretia Robbins does a selfie for the folks back home after the Scots defeated Piedmont for the USA South Athletic Conference women’s championship on Saturday.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Lauren Biliter was loud and clear, with little room for discussion in her voice:

“Hey, ‘Coach T,’” she shouted. “We’re going to Dollywood!”

Tournament most valuable player Mackenzie Puckett poured in a game-high 25 in the championship game.

Tournament most valuable player Mackenzie Puckett poured in a game-high 25 in the championship game.

Maryville College women’s coach Darrin Travillian isn’t likely to put up much of an argument after the Scots roared clear in the fourth quarter to defeat Piedmont, 60-48, in the championship game of the USA South Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday at Maryville’s Boydson Baird Gymnasium.

“We stepped up and finally hit some shots,” Travillian said. “We had some looks earlier in the game but couldn’t knock ’em down.

“It’s been an awesome tournament. I’m so proud of these ladies.”

Next for the Scots (21-3) is the announcement of the NCAA Division III tournament pairings on Monday at 2:30 at Cooper Athletic Center.

Tournament most valuable Mackenzie Puckett blew up for a game-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 3-for-3 from the arc, in turning back Piedmont. The All-American forward and two-time conference player of the year became only the fourth player in program history to reach 1,500 career points with the effort.

Sophomore Madison Maples was a crisp 4-of-7 from 3 in joining Puckett in double figures with 12 points. Joanna Young, Jordan Ballard and Biliter had six each for Maryville, which overcame a sluggish start and 19 turnovers to catch fire in the final frame.

Taylor Swoszowski paced the Lady Lions with 14, hitting three times from deep. Carly Sales followed with 12.

MC women's coach Darrin Travillian directs his troops on Saturday.

MC women’s coach Darrin Travillian directs his troops on Saturday.

“It’s about legs (playing three days in a row),” Travillian said. “(Piedmont coach) Jamie (Purdy) made a smart move going to the zone. Our ability to manage minutes the first two days of the tournament helped us (Saturday) down the stretch. (Scots assistant) coach (C.J.) Dake handles the substitutions for us and deserves a lot of the credit. There were a couple of times I looked over and thought, ‘What are you doing?’ but she was right.”

Holding a 22-18 lead at the half, the Scots fell prey to a Piedmont burst that saw the Lions take a 32-31 lead with two minutes to play in the third.

Off a feed from Smith, Maples let fly from the left side with 35 seconds to play in the quarter to spark a 6-0 sprint. The Farragut High School product kept right on going to start the fourth, hitting twice more as Maryville took off.

“Madison is just a pure shooter and an amazing scorer,” Travillian said. “Those (3s) were huge. This place erupted.”

Scots sophomore Madison Maples, second from left with headband, lit the fuse on an explosive fourth quarter.

Scots sophomore Madison Maples, front left with headband and pullover, lit the fuse on an explosive fourth quarter.

With Maryville so close to the conference title for three seasons now, there was no way they were letting this one slip through the fingers, Maples said.

“Coach always says don’t use being tired as an excuse,” she said, “and we didn’t use that at all (Saturday).”

Young’s steal and breakaway basket, coupled with a spin move in the lane from Puckett, opened the lead to eight with 5:30 remaining. Puckett put the gap at 50-39 with her third trey of the afternoon seconds later. Never once, she said, did the Scots entertain the possibility the title could get away.

“I don’t know if it even came into our brain,” Puckett said. “It was all about winning.”

The Lions never drew closer than 12 the rest of the way.

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