By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
WILLIAMSBURG — The Lynn Camp Lady Wildcats were in control of their game against Middlesboro until the final seconds.
Richard Jones’ squad was holding a slim 37-35 edge with a trip to the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic championship on the line when a loose ball found its way into the hands of Middlesboro’s Bailey Hensley, who released a wide-open shot from three-point range with :04 remaining, but it rimmed out, allowing Lynn Camp to pick up the two-point win while advancing to the title game for the first time in school history.
“I thought the shot was good — I thought it was going in,” a relieved Jones said after the game. “It was just one of those games. Here we had a loose ball and she’s standing in the corner alone and it goes right to her.”
Jones wasn’t the only one that thought Hensley’s shot was going to be good. Middlesboro coach Elgie Green was a few feet from her when she released the shot.
“I thought it was in,” he said. “She had a good look and it looked good.”
But the shot didn’t fall and Middlesboro failed to get a shot off at the buzzer.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” Green said.
“Survive and advance,” Jones said. “When you get this far, that’s what you’ve got to do. We were able to survive tonight. I have to give Middlesboro credit, they were right there, but I’m proud of my girls for pulling us through.”
Jones said coming into the game, he could sense his team was a bit nervous and it showed throughout offensively.
“I think we were nervous,” he said. “They came out and had a great game plan for us. Usually we are the team that is deliberate and slowing things down, but they turned the tables on us — and they did a good job doing it, too.”
Despite shooting four-of-12 in the first quarter, Lynn Camp (13-3) managed to build a 9-6 lead in the first quarter. The Lady Wildcats led 19-15 at halftime, but only shot eight-of-26 from the floor in the first half, but the Lady Yellow Jackets’ (3-13) shooting wasn’t much better with a seven-of-22 effort.
“We made some bad plays tonight and like I said, I really believe our nerves got us a bit,” Jones said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well at all.”
It looked as if Lynn Camp was going to pull away in the third quarter after Kayla Smith scored five straight points to make the score 24-15 with 6:24 remaining in the period. But Middlesboro closed out the quarter with a 9-0 run capped off with a basket by seventh grader Blair Green, as the Lady Wildcats connected on only two-of-nine shot attempts.
“We played hard,” Green said. “I thought we did a good job staying with them.”
Heather Wilson played a key role down the stretch in the fourth quarter by knocking down five straight free throws while leading the team with 14 points on eight-of-nine shooting from the charity stripe.
“Heather really played great for us tonight,” Jones said. “I was wanting her to be shooting the free throws. She really did a great job.”
Wilson scored five straight points to open the final period of play, increasing her team’s lead to 29-24, but once again the Lady Yellow Jackets rallied.
Middlesboro cut its deficit to one point (31-30) with 5:34 remaining, but a basket by Miranda Miller, combined with two made free throws by Wilson allowed Lynn Camp to hold for the win.
“This is a good win for us, but we’ve not reached our goal yet,” Jones said. “We want to win this and hopefully we can. I thought we did a good job tonight. Kayla seemed like she was nervous at times and I was really pleased with the way Merita Burke played. She really did a good job on defense. Like I said, survive and advance, and we did that tonight.”
13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament
at Williamsburg High School
Lynn Camp 37, Middlesboro 35
Lynn Camp 9 10 5 13 37
Middlesboro 6 9 9 11 35
Lynn Camp (37) — Smith 9, Wilson 14, Burke 6, May 2, Miller 2, Hollin 4.
Middlesboro (35) — Hensley 6, Padgett 4, Knuckles 2, Meyers 2, Green 17, Proffitt 2, Spurlock 2.