KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- The Lady Grizzlies fell short of bringing home the title in the program’s first state championship appearance after Macon County’s free-throw shooting proved to be too much.
Lauren Longmire opened scoring for Grainger with a layup, but Macon’s Abbey Shoulders answered with her own. It was a back-and-forth contest until Longmire hit a three to pull ahead, 8-7 in under three minutes left in the first quarter. But Macon knocked two down from the charity stripe, polished off by a layup on the following possession to take lead 12-9 at the end of the first eight minutes.
Grainger opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run capped off by a three from Millie Hurst, taking the lead 19-12. Macon was not going to let up that easy. Macon’s Jalynn Gregory made back-to-back buckets, scoring an early 11 points in the first 16 minutes to tie it up at 21 at the half.
Tori Rutherford drained two from beyond the perimeter in the third quarter, but Tigers Taylor Ward answered with one of her own, tying it at 27. The Lady Grizzlies went on a 6-0 run to pull ahead 33-30 heading into the final quarter.
Gregory hit a three, tying it at 33 and ignited a momentum shift.
Foul trouble was Grainger’s Achilles heel and Macon’s superpower. The Tigers, shooting 88% from the line, scored 9 straight points from the charity stripe to run away with the lead, 49-38. Rutherford made a last-attempt layup to cut the lead, but it was too late.
The Lady Grizzlies ended their season with a 35-4 record after falling to Macon in the Class AA State Title game, 51-40.
Rutherford ended with 11 points in her final game as a Lady Grizzly.