It has become a theme.
Intent on stopping Torie Vaught from going wild inside, a Maryville opponent opens the game in a zone. Guards Alex Breazeale, Rebekah Singleton and Carrie Goodson shoot the opposition out of said zone.
Vaught takes off, her quick feet and feathered jump shots in the lane powering Maryville to victory.
Farragut was no different Tuesday night at Lenoir City High School as the No. 7-ranked Lady Rebels got some early hot shooting from Singleton, Breazeale, Goodson - and big second half from Vaught - to pull away from the Lady Admirals for a convincing, 55-44 win in the District 4AAA tournament championship game.
Maryville (27-2) next hosts Clinton in a Region 2 quarterfinal game on Friday at James Campbell Gymnasium at 7 p.m.
William Blount’s Lady Governors, a 47-40 winner over Heritage in Tuesday’s consolation game, will open region play at Campbell County on Friday. The Lady Mountaineers begin the region tournament at Oak Ridge.
Vaught pumped in 23 points in securing tournament most valuable player honors Tuesday, the district player of the year hitting on seven consecutive shots in a scoring blitz that began early in the second quarter and extended well into the second half. Singleton, Breazeale and Goodson, all-tournament selections each, had done the bulk of their damage by that point. Singleton, 12 points, opened the game with a deep 3 in front of the Farragut bench, with Breazeale tagging the Lady Admirals for two more in rapid succession.
“When you’ve got scorers that can shoot outside, it changes the complexion of the game,” Lady Rebel coach Kim Bledsoe said.
When Maryville’s guards are finding the range, doubling Vaught can quickly lead to huge deficits for the opposition.
“The shooting from the guards is what did it because they weren’t able to double down on us (in the post),” Vaught said.
Maryville sprinted to an early seven-point lead behind its 3-point salvo. When Farragut regrouped to close within three after a quarter, Goodson tallied with a left-side trey, quickly returning the lead to five.
“Since Torie is playing so strong, we expected them to collapse on her,” Breazeale said.
Like so many Lady Rebel opponents this season, clogging the middle and forcing Maryville to win with the 3 wasn’t working for the Lady Admirals, but the alternative - Vaught - was likely worse.
“They are going to try it,” Bledsoe said. “I don’t blame them. I would do the same thing.”
By the half, the Lady Rebels had opened the gap to 24-16, and, while not an insurmountable margin, Maryville never looked threatened from that point. The Lady Rebels appeared well-prepared for the defensive approach the Lady Admirals were likely to take. The guards know they’re going to get some open looks, Singleton said.
“That’s our main focus in practice because we know all the teams are doubling down,” she said.
Vaught, sophomore Miranda Maples and senior Kylie Whaley are quick to distribute to the perimeter when they do.
“When they kick it out, we have to knock down the shots,” Goodson said.
Maples and Whaley were a noticeable reason Farragut could never really threaten in the second half.
Maples, while finishing with only five points, made sure the Lady Admirals didn’t focus all their attention on Vaught. Whaley had perhaps the biggest role of the three, her defense of all-district Farragut center Hayley Newby doing much to knock the legs from any attempted Lady Admiral charge in the second half.
Newby would finish with eight points, much of her night spent drifting farther and farther from the basket.
Maryville was on its guard for any Farragut, second-half uprising. A battle royal with rival Heritage in Saturday’s semifinal had taken care of that.
The Lady Rebels reached the championship game after Vaught converted a three-point play the old-fashion way with eight seconds remaining in a 41-40 Maryville win.
“I think when you have a tough game before that you are fortunate enough to win, it gives you a new outlook,” Bledsoe said.
Maryville led the Lady Admirals, 41-29, after three quarters. The combined inside punch of Vaught, Maples and Whaley blew the lead open to 17 with five minutes remaining, Whaley’s bucket at that point a finishing stroke.
William Blount 47, Heritage 40
The Lady Governors stung the Lady Mountaineers for a big third quarter, and solid William Blount free-throw shooting down the stretch made sure it was enough.
Leading 18-17 at the half, the Lady Governors let loose with a 20-point spurt to open a 38-29 advantage entering the fourth quarter. Heritage got within five with three minutes left but could get no closer. William Blount made good on 4-of-6 free throws inside the final 1:27 to remain just out of reach.
Sami VanVranken paced the Lady Governors with a team-best 13 points, with Sarah Wilson and Tatum Burstrom adding 10 each. Shelby Click knocked down a pair of key 3-pointers en route to finishing with seven.
Heritage got a game-high 15 points from senior Tracy Hardiman, with no other Lady Mountaineer in double figures. Kat Morris was next best for Heritage with seven.