BARBOURVILLE — The Pineville Lady Mountain Lions are headed back to the 13th Region All “A” championship game after holding on for a 52-50 win over Lynn Camp in Thursday’s semifinal.
“It feels good. Our hard work in practice is paying off,” Lady Lion coach Brenda Gambrel said. “We switched up our defense a little bit and our defense has been the key for us the last three games. We have flat out got after it and I think we’re pulling together as a team more every game.”
Just like last year, the Lady Lions had dropped their first two meetings against the Lady Wildcats but managed to pull off the upset in the All “A” tournament. Pineville got a 3-pointer at the end of regulation and went on to beat Lynn Camp in double overtime in last year’s championship game.
Thursday, it was the Lady Wildcats that had a chance to tie it late. Brooklyn Bryant hit a 3 with 22 seconds to play that cut Pineville’s lead to 50-47. After the Lady Lions missed two free throws, Bryant got another look at a deep trey with ten seconds to go but the shot rimmed out. Merita Burke grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with seven seconds left. She hit one free throw but Devin Enix rebounded the second one.
Enix sealed the win with two free throws and Miranda Miller scored in the closing seconds to set the final at 52-50.
The Lady Lions employed a 1-2-2 zone to contain Lynn Camp’s Jessica May and the senior center was held to just nine points in the game. The Lady Wildcats weren’t able to take advantage on the outside as they hit just four of 21 attempts from 3-point range.
That zone also confused Lynn Camp throughout the first half as Pineville surged into the lead.
A Heather Wilson basket with about 6:00 to play in the first quarter gave the Lady Wildcats their only lead of the night at 4-3. Pineville eighth-grader Jillian Enix drained a 3-pointer and a Devin Enix steal led to a layup by Emily Mullins. Jillian Enix added a basket to push the lead to 10-4 by the 3:45 mark.
Mullins hit her second 3 of the game to make it 13-6, but Lynn Camp got five straight points from Bryant to close within 13-11 by the end of the quarter.
“We went to a 1-2-2 and I told them I wanted (May) covered front and back. They did exactly what I asked and they shut her down,” Gambrel said. “We came out a little slow on one of their main shooters, but that’s a new defense we’re working on and overall it was tremendous. It’s really coming along.”
In the second period, Pineville held the Lady Wildcats to 3-of-14 shooting and forced seven turnovers as they pulled away. Erica Gambrell scored eight straight points to put the Lady Lions up 22-13 by the 4:00 mark. May scored four points on two putbacks, but baskets by Gambrell and Sophia Knuckles gave Pineville a 26-17 lead by halftime.
Devin Enix hit two 3s in the third quarter and Mullins added one as the Lady Lion answered every time Lynn Camp threatened. The lead was 40-31 after three quarters.
Two free throws and a basket from Wilson brought the Lady Wildcats within 41-38 close to the midway point of the fourth period. But Gambrell followed her own miss with a layup, Knuckles hit one free throw and Mullins two to push the lead back to eight.
A basket by Jillian Enix had the Lady Lions up 48-38 with 1:54 to play. The eighth-grader also snapped a string of four straight missed Pineville free throws by hitting two with 34.5 seconds left that made it 50-43.
Breanna Hollin hit one free throw, but the rebound on her missed second one went out off of Pineville and Bryant hit that 3 to make it a three-point game late. Bryant led all scorers with 21 points, but her late 3 to tie it was off the mark and the Lady Lions held on.
Mullins led a balanced Pineville scoring attack with 15 points while Gambrell added 13, Jillian Enix 11 and Devin Enix 10.
“I had four girls in double-figures and (Rachel Barnes and Sophia Knuckles) also did an excellent job with rebounding and playing defense,” Gambrel added. “I’m just proud of them overall. I thought as a team we played really good.”
Lynn Camp (14-2) will play Moore at Shelby Valley on Saturday in the Tom Creamer Classic. Pineville (9-7) advances to play Harlan in Friday’s 13th Region All “A” championship game.
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PINEVILLE (52) — Emily Mullins 15, Erica Gambrell 13, Jillian Enix 11, Devin Enix 10, Rachel Barnes 0, Sophia Knuckles 3, Makayla Keyes 0.
LYNN CAMP (50) — Brooklyn Bryant 21, Heather Wilson 12, Jessica May 9, Merita Burke 3, Miranda Miller 4, Breanna Hollin 1, Ginger White 0, Sierra Turner 0, Destiny Hill 0.