By Ken Lay
By week’s end Knox County will have a new middle school girls basketball champion.
Farragut Middle School assured that when it outlasted defending Knox County Middle School Champion Northwest 30-24 Thursday afternoon in the first round of the James A. Ivey, Jr. Memorial Middle School Basketball Tournament at Farragut’s Bobby J. Henry Gymnasium.
The seventh-seeded Lady Admirals (7-7) also avenged a regular-season loss to the Lady Rangers (5-9) in the finale between the two schools two weeks ago.
Both teams battled offensive woes in the first half but Farragut, which was set to play second-seeded Cedar Bluff in Saturday’s quarterfinals at Karns Middle School (results were not available at press time), did enough to open a 14-8 lead by halftime.
The Lady Giants, along with top-seeded West Valley, enjoyed an opening-round bye Thursday.
The Lady Rangers, who seemed a bit lethargic in the first half, was able to tie the game at 20 when Amiana Grady buried a 3-point shot with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Farragut scored the last basket of the frame and held a 22-20 advantage heading to the final stanza.
“Northwest is a very athletic team and they’re well-coached,” Lady Admirals’ coach Susan Davidson said. “They beat us 33-28 [in the regular season finale].
“I don’t know much about them but I know they’re good and athletic and I know their coach does a great job.”
The Lady Rangers scored first in the final quarter on a bucket by Jordan Ragland. FMS then took a 23-22 lead on a free throw from Madison Hodge.
Northwest, the tournament’s 10th seed, took its only lead of the contest when Maedaysia Rodgers scored a basket with 4 minutes, 19 seconds left.
The Lady Rangers’ lead was short-lived as Farragut went ahead 25-24 on a putback layup by Morgan Carbough, who led all scorers with 16 points.
When the dust had settled, the Lady Admirals held the defending champs scoreless over the final 4:18. Farragut finished the game on a 7-0 run and got a defensive spark from eighth-grade point guard and three-year starter Keyonna Bourne, who had several steals down the stretch that led to most of Farragut’s final points.
Rodgers scored 12 points to spark the Lady Rangers in their final game of the season.