BRENTWOOD - Basketball season is over for the Beech Lady Buccaneers.
A dominant third quarter, followed by three big shots in the final four minutes from the Lady Bruins in the fourth quarter, sealed Brentwood’s trip to the state tournament, 44-38.
“I felt like both teams played (as) hard as they could, but I think the third quarter was the difference in the game. We didn’t get to our players like we needed to, and they hit key shots,” Beech head coach Kristi Utley said.
“It’s just hard right now,” Utley continued. “There is only one team at the end who doesn’t feel this way, and tonight just happened to be our night (to feel this way).”
The Lady Bucs end their season 27-5 and say goodbye to a talented senior class.
“It was genuine family love,” Utley said of this season. “Everything we did we did for each other and did as a family because we are a family.”
Despite 16 offensive rebounds, Beech tallied just nine second-chance points - all three-pointers.
The Lady Bruins’ size down low and tenacious ability on the defensive end gave up just eight points in the paint.
“We couldn’t get into a flow and get the ball inside,” Utley said of the limited points in the paint. “I couldn’t figure it out because we had our sets and knew what we wanted to run; we just didn’t do a good job of doing what we needed to do.”
In the first half, Beech knocked down four 3-pointers, but only found the bottom of the net from distance twice in the second half.
Leading 23-18 to start the second quarter, Beech tallied just three points while Brentwood ran off 13 points.
“The difference was the third quarter tonight. I don’t know what else to say about it,” Utley added of the eight-minute stretch after halftime.
Brentwood (29-2) registered just three 3-pointers in the second half, but two came in the final four minutes to help build the biggest lead of the game for either team, 39-31.
Beech tried to cut into the deficit at the free throw line, but a lane violation on Hoosier’s second shot wiped the make off the board, keeping Beech down two possessions, 39-35, with 52 seconds remaining.
From there, the two teams traded free throws.
With 24 seconds left on the clock trailing 41-38, referees let the two teams continue through what should have been a jump-ball call that would have given possession back to Beech but instead resulted in the Lady Bucs having to foul sending the Lady Bruins to the charity stripe for 2 points and the 43-38 lead.
Following a Beech miss and a Brentwood rebound, a technical foul call for both teams saw Brentwood go to the free throw line for two shots, sealing the victory, 44-38.
The Lady Bucs end their season one win shy of going to Murfreesboro, and their best season since the 2012-2013 season that also saw 25 wins and a berth in the Class AAA sub-state.
Beech says goodbye to their four seniors Jana Claire Swafford, Deshiya Hoosier, Mia Dean, and Ryleigh Piotto.
“I will miss them off the floor,” Utley added. “They are great young ladies. Take away basketball, and they are great ladies who are fun to coach, love to be around each other, and love the game.”
After the game, Kristi Utley announced to her team and fans that she would step down as head coach effective immediately after four seasons leading the program.
Utley finishes her career 93-35 overall and 46-10 in District 9-AAA play. Her teams saw four trips to the region tournament, three regular season District 9-AAA championships, one District 9-AAA tournament championship, one runner-up District 9-AAA Tournament finish, one third place District 9-AAA Tournament finish, and one Class AAA sub-state appearance.