Beech players and coaches celebrate during a time-out after jumping out to a commanding lead early against Henry County.

Beech players and coaches celebrate during a time-out after jumping out to a commanding lead early against Henry County.

HENDERSONVILLE - The Beech Lady Bucs will play in the Region 5-AAA semifinals for a third consecutive season after rolling the Henry County Lady Patriots, 66-25, Friday night. 

The Lady Bucs opened the game on fire, sinking two 3-pointers in their first two possessions before a 19-2 run put the game to bed in the middle of the first quarter. 

“That is a good team we played,” Beech head coach Kristi Utley said. “We just hit big shots early. I think when tournament time comes, you try and put your Brest game on the table, and I feel like that is the best game we have played in a while.” 

The Lady Bucs carried a 31-10 lead into the locker room. 

A 19-7 scoring advantage in the third quarter, including four 3-pointers from the team, gave the Lady Bucs a 50-17 lead after 24 minutes. 

Beech tallied 18 fast break points, and 24 points in the paint, along with seven 3-pointers in the victory.

Deshiya Hoosier led the Lady Bucs with 19 points while Mia Dean and Natasia Jones each scored 10 points. 

With the game all but over in the fourth quarter and the starters on the bench, senior Jana Claire Swafford patrolled the court looking to write her name in the Beech record books. 

The senior, who almost missed this season following a knee injury this past summer, scored 12 of her 15 total points to join the elite career 1,000 point club with just 30 seconds left in the game. 

She did so going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe and 2-for-2 from the field in the final frame. Her 15th point, the one that gave her 1,000, was a simple pull up jumper from just inside the 3-point line - a shot the senior has practiced countless times throughout her basketball career. After sinking the shot, the team went crazy, storming the court with Swafford jumping into the arms Jerome Hoosier. 

“No one was on me, so I just thought I’d pull up here, and it went it,” Swafford recalled. “What a crazy feeling. I jumped into one of my coach's arms (Jerome Hoosier), and it was a great feeling and something I will remember for a long time.

“I have the best teammates,” Swafford continued. “I want to give this night to them because they knew I was close, and they wanted to get me the ball and give me a shot. I’m truly grateful for them.”

“That was a big moment,” Utley added. “You have to take advantage of the big moments when you can. There was no intention of disrespecting Henry County (storming the court with 30 seconds left), but that is something she has worked for, and she got it. 

“How many kids would come back for their senior year, especially ones that are going to play at the next level” Utley continued on Swafford’s knee injury and perseverance. “She worked hard to get back, and she has done a great job since being back. We are proud of her.” 

The victory means Beech will play Rossview in the Region 5-AAA semifinals at Springfield on Monday night. Winner gets a shot at the region title and a guaranteed sub-state game while the loser goes home. 

Beech and Rossview last met on November 29 in a Thanksgiving tournament in Lebanon, where the Lady Bucs came away victorious, 42-32. 

With a win Monday night over Rossview, Beech will lock up a spot in the region finals for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. 

 

Box Score

Beech (66): Deshiya Hoosier 19, JC Swafford 15, Natasia Jones 10, Mia Dean 10, Riley Long 4, Laci Walmer 4, Bri Ellis 2, Ryleigh Piotto 2. 

 

Henry County (25): Ally DIggs 6, Abby Grace Alton 5, Ella Bomar 4, Heaven Bowen 4, Sophie Singleton 4, Mary Rae Smith 2. 

 

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