White House Heritage senior Alex Green was not afraid of the big moment in Saturday’s District 9-AA semifinal at Cheatham County.
With two senior starters on the bench – Eimy Esparza fouled out and Kelsey Russell had a bloody nose – Heritage trailed the Lady Cubs 47-46 with 30 seconds remaining. That’s when Green hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Lady Patriots the lead for good.
Heritage pulled out a 50-48 victory to advance to the district title game against Westmoreland. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Cheatham County.
“I was open, and I haven’t been hitting (shots) recently,” Green said. “But I thought, ‘Oh well,’ and it went in. It was all these emotions…it was great.”
It was the third close battle between the two teams this season. Heritage split its regular-season meetings with Cheatham County, the defending Class AA state champion with a revamped roster.
“Cheatham County has gotten so much better from where they were at the start of the year,” Heritage coach Clay Head said. “To me, it was two evenly matched teams. I was proud that we were able to pull it out at the end.”
Green and Kelsey Russell led Heritage with 16 points apiece. In a 48-42 overtime loss to Cheatham County on Feb. 14, the Lady Patriots made just one three and shot 25 percent from the floor. But the Heritage offense improved on Saturday.
“The biggest thing is that we didn’t look like we played with fear,” Head said. “You’ve got to shoot it and shoot it with confidence. And Alex has plenty of confidence.”
After’s Green go-ahead shot, Heritage senior Sadie Short also fouled out, leaving just two starters on the floor for the last 10 seconds. The substitutes held strong, and Holmes split a pair of free throws to finish the scoring.
“Our bench works hard in practice too,” Green said. “There’s no dropdown from our starters to our bench. They work just as hard as us and sometimes harder. They push (the starters) and it helps us in games like this.”
Jesse Bumpus scored 17 points for the Lady Cubs, while Alli Douglas added 12. Cheatham County fell to the consolation game against Sycamore, which was set for Monday at 6 p.m. in Ashland City.
No. 2 seed Heritage (22-6) now gets one more crack at No. 1 Westmoreland (26-3). The Lady Eagles beat the Lady Patriots 36-31 on Jan. 7 and 52-36 on Jan. 31.
“They’re really, really good,” Head said. “But we match up well with them. We can’t turn the ball over and give up easy shots – we’ve got to make them earn everything.”
The Lady Patriots will also host a Region 5-AA tournament game on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. They will play either Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet or RePublic from District 10-AA.
Cheatham County (48): Jesse Bumpus 17, Alli Douglas 12, Katelyn Sisco 7, Carlie Hogan 6, Harper Dee 5, Ansley Pfeffer 1.
WH Heritage (50): Alex Green 16, Kelsey Russell 16, Staten Holmes 9, Eimy Esparza 6, Sadie Short 2, Bekah Lamberth 1.