By CRAIG DELK, Cookeville Herald Citizen
COOKEVILLE -- Wednesday night's Wilson Central/Moore County matchup was fitting of a championship game. Both teams traded leads and spurts, with neither relenting until the Lady Wildcats had the last burst to defeat the Raiderettes 53-48 in the Mid South Classic girls finals game at Cookeville High School.
After the Raiderettes had gone up 46-44 on a Rachel Garland baby hook, the Lady Wildcats answered with a 9-2 run to end the contest. Wilson Central's Sydney Vanlandingham buried a 3-pointer that proved to be a crucial shot, giving it a 49-46 lead it did not relinquish again.
"I feel like at the three-minute mark, they had some momentum," Wilson Central coach Bud Brandon said of the fourth quarter. "We did have a timeout where the game was tied, and I thought we just needed to be a little more patient on offense and calm things down. It could have gone either way, but Sydney Vanlandingham stepped up and hit a big three for us. That was a dagger there I thought that was huge. Then we came down and got a steal, and hit a few free throws."
Tournament MVP Ieshia Hassell led WCHS with 18 points, while Taylor Peterson added 10.
Brandon was proud of his team for pulling off three wins over tough teams; the Lady Wildcats (11-0) defeated Franklin County 54-37 in the first round and Jackson County 53-51 in the semifinals.
"Moore County's got a great team, and this is a great tournament," Brandon said. "They run a great tournament here, and hopefully it will pay off for us, playing this good competition, later in the season."
Sarah Raby led Moore County (12-2) with 17 points, Garland added 16 and Heather Vann chipped in 13. The trio combined for all but two of the Raiderettes' points.
Wilson Central led 26-20 at halftime before seeing Moore County rally to tie it at 38-38 at the end of the third quarter. The Lady Wildcats led by as many as eight points in the first half.