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District champs upset in regionals

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By Dwane Wilder

If Campbell County High School’s girls had a sense of déjà vu Friday night, it’s because they had been down this road before.

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Just two years ago, a lower seeded William Blount team came into John R.W. Brown Gymnasium and escaped with a four-point Region 2-AAA quarterfinal victory.

During that February 2010 game, sophomore wing Tatum Burstrom scored 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half while leading the Lady Governors to their first region tournament win in 20 years.

Burstrom, now a battle tested senior, was even more impressive in this year’s regional opener. The Carson-Newman signee poured in a game high 24 points, including four 3-pointers, to carry fourth seeded William Blount (16-14) to a 54-37 triumph on top seeded Campbell County’s home court.

The Lady Cougars (24-7) opened with a 9-0 run but let the Lady Governors back in the game by the end of the first quarter. 

From there on, it was a dogfight. The game was tied 21-21 at intermission and again at 25-25 early in the second half before William Blount outscored Campbell County 29-12 during the last 12 minutes of the game.

“I thought we had a great start,” Lady Cougars’ coach Ryan Browning said.

“Then we missed a few easy shots, and, from then on out, we couldn’t get anything to fall. Our zone defense worked early, then William Blount started to hit shots forcing us to go man (defense). They used their quickness to spread the floor. We had an opportunity to come back, but we shot the ball poorly.”

Campbell County suffered a seven-minute scoring drought that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Had the Lady Cougars made their free throws (they missed 10 of 22 attempts), the outcome might have been different.

Senior point guard Courtney Morris, who led Campbell County in scoring this season, only had two points after halftime. She finished with 11, followed by Shayla Goins with nine, Amber Young seven, Kristin Chapman four; and Niki Ward, Hannah Owens and Maria Foust two each.

Foust, a senior post player that made both the regular season and tournament all-district teams, turned her left ankle early in the fourth quarter and was helped off the court never to return.

Young and fellow starter Courtney Miller fouled out down the stretch. The Lady Cougars didn’t score in the fourth quarter until Morris hit a pair of free throws with 2:37 remaining. By then, Campbell County trailed by 15 points.

The Lady Cougars were disappointed with the loss, but their coach didn’t want to dwell on the negative.

“We accomplished many things this season,” Browning said.

“We won the Christmas tournament, we won the regular season district championship, we also won the district tournament championship and had four girls on the all-district team. 

“These girls worked hard last summer and fall during conditioning and had a goal of a championship, and they succeeded. 

“Our bench players really stepped it up and helped the team during the entire season. I’m very proud of these girls in what they have done. And I think the community is also very proud. 

“I would like to thank everyone for their support during the season. Even though we have a bitter taste on how the last game went, these girls had a tremendous season.”