Bay­lor girls win sixth straight Best of Preps tour­na­ment

BAY­LOR GIRLS WEAR BOP CROWN FOR SIXTH STRAIGHT TOUR­NA­MENT

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY LIND­SEY YOUNG STAFF WRITER

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY DOUG STRICK­LAND

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY DOUG STRICK­LAND

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.

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