Thursday's high school basketball recap

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March Madness, Girls' High School Basketball Style, began Thursday with a couple of area teams looking to move one step closer to a state championship. Both Martin Westview and Murray High have tasted success in recent years, but both schools have also combined for only one title, so this is the time where, for these ladies, the proverbial rubber meets the road.

My day of coverage began in Murfreesboro, where Martin Westview took on Lewis County. The Lady Panthers are making their first ever trip to the TSSAA Tournament, so any experience the Lady Chargers have dealing with the pressure of the biggest stage of the year could be exploited early...

...and it was.

Shooting at a 57% clip in the first half, Amber Rechis and company were able to lead by as many as 14 points, and they scored with the mid-range jumper, with the triple and with open looks to the basket. We've known all season long Westview can score in a variety of ways, but to continue the gameplan against an athletic group like Lewis County shows just how determined the Lady Chargers are with trying to bring home the championship.

Another reason for this first-half success was playing in a halfcourt, pressing defense. This may explain why Westview looked so exhausted coming out of the locker room in the second half, when the Lady Panthers put together a monumental comeback to cut their deficit to four after trailing by 12 at halftime. You live by the press, you die by the press. Thankfully for Westview, Grace Ann Swaim found another gear, drove the basket, found open looks and put together a 21 point, 9 rebound effort en route to a Quarterfinal victory.

Looking ahead to Friday, Westview will now take on top-ranked McMinn Central, a squad with just two losses all season long. Unlike Lewis County, McMinn has plenty of experience in Murfreesboro. They are also athletic, well coached and can put points on the board in a hurry. This matchup is worthy of a semifinal game and will prove as a good test to see what Westview is capable of at the highest level.

My day then concluded in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Murray High made its first state tournament appearance in 13 years. Thirteen is, of course, an unlucky number in many circles, and it was not pretty for the Lady Tigers. Rockcastle County began the game on a 17-0 run and forced Murray to take a number of low-percentage shots they had not taken all season long. Many of those points came from breakaways, meaning the speed the Lady Rockets showed was overwhelming.

Though Murray made many attempts to make the contest competitive, Rockcastle County was too deep, too fast and too aggressive to let up after such a large lead early.

After the game, Coach Rechelle Turner said that she wanted to take the trip to the tournament as an opportunity to grow her program; however, a lopsided loss has to be accounted for if Murray is going to remain a force in the First Region. Her solution: make her team more aggressive. Coach Turner said that, for her team to play at the next level, they must challenge even more shots, learn how to clear space and simply be more physical. She says she hopes to work on developing a more extensive weight program. The pieces already seem to be in place to add to an already stellar 2009-10 campaign, but Coach Turner also admits the competition in the Fourth District will always remain tough.

We'll have another recap of high school basketball playoffs Friday night. Until then, take care everyone.

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