Baylor girls win sixth straight Best of Preps tournament
BAYLOR GIRLS WEAR BOP CROWN FOR SIXTH STRAIGHT TOURNAMENT
The future is bright for the Baylor Lady Red Raiders. How many perennial state championship contenders go through a cycle in which three freshmen earn starting positions and six fill spots on an 11-girl roster?
The present, it appears, isn’t so bad either, and though the aforementioned freshmen are indeed contributing, it’s a pair of battle-tested seniors who make the current team go.
Cheyenne Lindsey and JuToreyia Willis led a furious second-half rally as Baylor captured its sixth consecutive Times Free Press Best of Preps tournament championship with a 50-42 win over Meigs County on Saturday night at Chattanooga State. Willis earned MVP honors with 23 points and Lindsey dominated the paint with 15 rebounds and added five steals as the Lady Red Raiders (10-5) overcame an early nine-point deficit to secure the title.
“Meigs is a heck of a team with a couple of players who can put it on the floor and a couple who can shoot it,” Baylor coach John Gibson said. We played them before, so we knew what we were getting into and it wouldn’t be easy.”
And it wasn’t. The Lady Tigers (14-2), who won this season’s previous matchup 47-38, used the playmaking ability of their own freshman star, point guard Jacelyn Stone, to break down the Baylor defense for easy baskets. Meigs, with Jade Meadows scoring eight of her 10 points, took a 17-10 lead early in the second period.
Senior wing Kaylie Moore later hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Baylor’s Willis picked up a technical foul — also her third personal foul — just before the half as Meigs built a 26-17 lead.
Frustration followed the Lady Red Raiders into the locker room.
“We came into halftime and talked about everything we were doing wrong,” Willis said. “After that we knew we had to go, because this is our tournament. Even the freshmen picked it up a lot and helped us.”
“Winning this title means so much to all of us. Me and Cheyenne have been playing together for so long, and it’s great to have her beside me as we’ve won this all four years.”
– JUTOREYIA WILLIS
Gibson believed his team was getting beat by an opponent that wanted it more.
“We talked about it halftime — we felt we were moving us off our spots the whole time and they were moving us off our spots, so we were losing both battles,” Gibson said. “We were losing leverage everywhere, and I told them we had to win some battles.”
The coach’s request was granted as the Baylor defense stiffened so much the Lady Tigers didn’t score until 3:32 remained in the third period and managed only five points in the quarter. Meanwhile, as Willis continued to make plays on both ends of the court and Lindsey kept dominating the lane with six points, Baylor freshman Reagyn Conley made her presence known.
Conley scored six points and added a pair of steals as Baylor turned a seven-point halftime deficit into a 39-31 lead after three quarters.
Meigs, after getting down by 10 on a Willis steal and layup, scored eight straight, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Moore, to get within two. However, the Lady Tigers did not score another field goal, managing just three free throws as Baylor clamped down to keep its coveted title.
“Winning this title means so much to all of us,” Willis said. “Me and Cheyenne have been playing together for so long, and it’s great to have her beside me as we’ve won this all four years.”
Conley backed Willis with 15 points and added five steals, while Moore led Meigs with 16 points.
Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@ timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @ youngsports22.
Baylor’s Brooklyn Gordon dribbles around Meigs County’s Macie Boggess during the Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament girls’ championship game Saturday night at Chattanooga State. Baylor won 50-42.
Meigs County’s Jacelyn Stone shoots Baylor’s Cheyenne Lindsey during their Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament championship game Saturday night at Chattanooga State.