From Post staff reports
GALLATIN -- Rising to the occasion with a tremendous defensive effort, Wilson Central eliminated arch-rival Mt. Juliet 47-37 Monday in the semifinals of the Region 5AAA tournament.
The victory assured the Lady Wildcats (25-4) of at least two more games, tonight’s region finals and a TSSAA sectional game on Saturday.
No. 2-ranked Mt. Juliet had defeated Central twice during the regular season -- but the third time proved to be the charm for Coach Bud Brandon’s crew.
Brandon pointed to the play of post player Ieshia Hassell as a key to the win.
“She’s our only senior, and seniors don’t want to go down,” Brandon said. “She took it to another level. She said, ‘Coach, just give me the ball, give me the ball.’ She really showed her leadership.”
Hassell and Taylor Peterson led the Lady Wildcats with 15 points apiece while Sydney Vanlandingham chipped in with nine.
Perhaps another key to the victory was keeping a lid on Mt. Juliet’s Miss Basketball finalist Caya Williams who was held to just 12 points -- way below her average.
Barianne Taylor led Mt. Juliet with 14 points. No other Lady Bear broke into double figures.
Central led 21-15 at intermission, and saw Mt. Juliet claw to within 31-26 after three. Wilson Central outscored their rivals 16-11 in the final period to ice the win.