East Carter County's Faith Evans attemps to block a shot taken by Senath-Hornersville's Rachel Tom in the first half.
The defensive perfection allowed Senath-Hornersville to overcome a 48-43 deficit in the final 150 seconds of regulation.
Senath-Hornersville took its first lead of the second half when the Lions' Taylor Clifton drained a 2-pointer with 12 seconds remaining after she collected a steal near the free-throw-line when East Carter County was attempting to move the ball to half court.
Neither team scored following Clifton's basket and Senath-Hornersville advanced to the consolation semifinals with a 50-48 win against East Carter County.
"We came out tonight so slow and so sloppy," Senath-Hornersville coach Jamie Johnson said. "We had multiple chances to really expand on a lead and give ourselves some breathing room. We were just absolutely not intense and we were not playing well. East Carter County did a good job of exploiting it and scoring on the inside. Marler is a heck of a player
"After some changes and picking up some defensive intensity we were able to get some turnovers," Johnson continued. "At that point we really picked up the pace of the game in our favor."
Clifton hit two free throws at the 1:23 mark of regulation to cut East Carter County's lead to 48-45. Briana Kempf collected a 2-point field goal with 46 seconds left to trim the deficit to 48-47. Clifton made one of two free throws with 31 seconds left to tie the game before she recorded the game-winning field goal following a steal.
"Taylor does a lot of quite things," Johnson said. "She does a real good job distributing the ball. Rachel gets a lot of press and headlines, but Taylor is the one that gets that ball moving and makes sure other players score. She does a lot of great things for us and is a leader on the court.
"The steal in the last few seconds was big," Johnson continued. "She's a a senior for us and played like one tonight. I was proud of her."
East Carter County led the game 30-18 at halftime after it outscored Senath-Hornersville 18-6 in the second quarter. Both teams scored 14 points in the third period before the Lions outscored the Redbirds 18-4 in the final eight minutes.
Clifton calculated 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter. She scored all of her points after halftime. Rachel Tom scored 10 of her team-high 20 points for the Lions in the first quarter.
"Rachel is always going to draw the toughest assignments, and that's fine," Johnson said. "We are doing some things offensively to try to get her some better looks, and try to get all five of our kids some better looks."
Faith Eaves tallied a field goal in every quarter. She led East Carter County with 18 points. Eaves fouled out with 1:23 left in the fourth period.
The Redbirds' Courtney Marler scored 11 of her 16 points before halftime.
"Some of our girls are a little banged up," Johnson said. "We had to make some defensive adjustments inside and some of our girls that don't normally log a lot of minutes stepped up tonight. Kenna Crawford stepped in and really did a good job shutting down the interior passing. Their interior passing in the lane was just absolutely killing us and when she went into the game that changed. You've got to tip your hat to a kid who is not a starter, but can step in there and give you those valuable minutes she did tonight."
Briana Kempf tallied a field goal in every quarter on her way to a 12-point night for Senath-Hornersville.
Senath-Hornersville will play No. 11 seeded Chaffee in a consolation semifinal at the tournament Friday at 8 p.m. If Senath-Hornersville wins Friday it will play for the consolation championship Saturday at 3 p.m. Chaffee beat Portageville 55-49 in its consolation quarterfinal Tuesday.
"It's such a great tournament because we don't see a lot of teams from up north," Johnson said. "It gives us a chance to play a team we might not see for the rest of the year, or a few years. It is also another game for us in the tournament. We are really glad we are getting to play again after our first-half-effort tonight. We are looking forward to it. We've got the Christmas break coming up, but the girls are ready to play Friday night and we'll see what happens."
No. 10 Senath-Hornersville 50, No. 15 East Carter County 48
ECC 12 18 14 4 - 48
SHS 12 6 14 18 - 50
EAST CARTER COUNTY (48) - Faith Eaves 18, Ashley Lovette 4, Brooke Eaves 5, Courtney Marler 16, Megan Mullins 5. FG 19, FT 9/15, F 13. (3-pointers: Mullins 1. Fouled out: Eaves)
SENATH-HORNERSVILLE (50) - Taylor Clifton 16, Rachel Tom 20, Briana Kempf 12, Allison Hoffman 2. FG 19, FT 12/15, F 10. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)