The Commercial Appeal
Williams powers Bartlett past Arlington for 1st district title in 8 years
Faye Williams wasn’t supposed to be the center of Bartlett’s offense Tuesday night at Collierville.
It just happened the Arlington defense lost her while trying to take Nevaeh Scott, Mallory Collier and Raven Sims out of the game. Williams ended up being the leading scorer at halftime with 18 points and finished with 22 in Bartlett’s 73-51 win over Arlington in the
District 15-4A championship game.
“Wherever the ball is, I make sure I pay attention so I don’t get lost or miss anything,” Williams said of getting going early.
She’s just a freshman.
Even in one of the biggest moments in the season, Williams was ready. A lot of that preparation came from practice. It also helps having Collier, a North Carolina State signee, as a mentor.
“I feel like she stepped up and did her job tonight,” Collier said. “I feel like there’s more to come for Faye.”
Together, the duo in the frontcourt and Sims and Scott in the backcourt helped the Panthers end an eight-year losing streak to Arlington in the district championship game. Their last win came in the 2014-15 season.
“We knew what we wanted the outcome to be,” said Scott, who finished with 11 points. “We’ve been in this position before. We were in this position last year; we just wanted a different outcome.
“Everybody was hungry for the win.” Tuesday’s win added confidence for the Panthers, who came in declaring this a “championship or bust” season. While Tuesday wasn’t the state championship just yet, it shows the Panthers are ready to take that next step.
All season, the Panthers have played with confidence. That couldn’t have been more prevalent against Arlington. They came out to a 14-6 lead, thanks to a full-court defensive scheme that forced three straight turnovers in the first quarter.
The Panthers never looked back. “With our size and athleticism, we can make it tough for opponents to score,” said Bartlett coach Wes Shappley. “That’s been the difference.”
Arlington has been the team that’s given Bartlett the most trouble in the postseason. It’s been the team that’s kept the Panthers from winning a district championship, winning a region championship, hosting a sectional and making it to the state tournament.
This year might be different.
The Panthers look like a team that can return to Murfreesboro for the first time since 2015.
“We still have to not settle,” Collier said. “We still have regionals. Just keep on pushing. Our job isn’t finished.”