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When the Oliver Springs Lady Bobcats were sitting on a 4-13 record after a 41-37 loss to Unicoi County on Dec. 28, a District 4-A Championship seemed unlikely to happen this season for Michelle Christopher’s squad.
But at that time, Oliver Springs was battling through injuries and still had 11 games left in the regular season. The Lady ’Cats went on to win 10 of those games with the final one coming Friday night with a 48-44 victory over Oneida, a victory that gave the Lady ’Cats a share of the regular season District 4-A Championship along with the Lady Indians.
Oliver Springs came out like a ball of fire against the Lady Indians. The Lady ’Cats scored the game’s first 13 points with the inside trio of Courtney Jones, Jessica Gilmore and Rachel Smith combining for 10 of those points.
The rest of the game, however, wouldn’t be as easy. The Lady Indians showed why they entered the contest with an undefeated mark in district play as they ended the opening period with a 10-4 run to close to within 17-10 after eight minutes of play.
Oneida continued its strong play at the start of the second period. The Lady Indians scored 10 of the period’s first 12 points to take their first lead of the game at 20-19. Oliver Springs did recover to take a 24-23 lead at halftime.
The third quarter would see a pair of runs. The first would see Oliver Springs jump out to a 33-27 lead only to see the Lady Indians end the frame with a 10-3 surge to take a 37-36 lead into the final period of play.
Oneida led 40-38 early in the final period when Oliver Springs put together the decisive run. A 3-point play from Emily Griffith gave the Lady ’Cats a 42-40 lead with 4:19 to play. Rachel Griffith hit four free throws over the next 50 seconds to make the score 46-40 with 3:31 left to play.
Oneida never got closer than four points down the stretch as the Lady ’Cats went on to the 48-44 victory.
Seven different Lady ’Cats scored on the night with Emily Griffith (10 points, 4 rebounds) being the only one to reach double figures.
Jessica Morgan (15 points, 6 rebounds), Micah Stephens (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Baylee Newport (11 points) all scored in double figures for the Lady Indians.
Despite winning a share of the regular season title, the Lady ’Cats are the No. 2 seed in the upcoming District 4-A Tournament after losing a coin flip with Oneida for the No. 1 seed and first round tournament bye. The Lady ’Cats will host Jellico Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the first round of the District 4-A Tournament.
Oliver Springs (48) E. Griffith 10, Morgan 6, R. Griffith 9, Smith 6, Topmiller 5, Jones 8, Gilmore 4.