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Perfect season snapped

Rhiannon Hoover laid on the ground, only catching a glimpse of her final shot sinking through the net. Boyd players pleaded for a whistle, but it never came. And in the silence of the final seconds of the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference semifinal game, the Lady Broncos lost their perfect season. Boyd fell to the Middle Tennessee Heat 44-43 in the semifinals Friday, ending its chance of completing a perfect regular season and tournament run through the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference. The Lady Broncos entered the MTAC tournament as the No. 1 seed after finishing the regular season 15-0. A win over the Western Kentucky Trailblazers at home advanced Boyd into the tournament semifinals, which were held at Currey Ingram High School. A hard-fought contest between the Lady Broncos and Heat went down to the wire with Middle Tennessee holding a four-point lead. In the final seconds, Boyd looked to rally with a deep ball from Hoover. With three seconds to play, the eighth-grade guard let go a 3-pointer in the corner while defenders rushed her way. Hoover was knocked down on her shot, which swished through the net, but no foul was called. A chance to tie at the line was never granted and the perfect season, like the game, was lost. Coach Donna Newby didn’t dwell on the last play as she thought the game was one of the best ones of the season for Boyd. “It was the toughest game all season for us and it was so much more than one play at the end,” said Newby. “It was back and forth and we fought back from an early deficit. We went into the game knowing rebounding and minimizing turnovers would be important and we did both of those things. “What we didn’t count on was a cold shooting night. When you can’t score, you can’t win.” Rachel Fettig helped the Heat take an early lead as she scored 14 points in the first quarter, sinking four 3-pointers in the process. A fifth 3-pointer by Kylie Ramsey gave the Heat a 19-10 lead after the first quarter. Boyd battled back with a stingy defense that was determined not to let the Heat fire away from the outside. The Lady Broncos bottled up the 3-point attack by the Heat as Middle Tennessee didn’t hit another outside shot the rest of the game. With the defense playing better, Boyd began to chip away at the lead. By the time Hoover sank a 3-pointer and Claire LeDuc added a late layup, the Lady Broncos had cut the lead to 23-21 at halftime. The Heat pushed the lead back to six, 36-30, entering the fourth quarter, but the Lady Broncos wouldn’t go away. LeDuc scored five points in the fourth quarter while Hoover and Ashley Newby added jumpers to keep the Lady Broncos within striking distance. Ultimately, it was a three-point play by Fettig that proved to be the difference as her basket came with a foul call late and Hoover’s did not. Fettig finished with a game-high 22 points for the Heat as the team went on to win the MTAC tournament. Hoover led Boyd with 11 points, followed by Newby and LeDuc with nine each. The Lady Broncos bounced back Saturday in the consolation game to beat Franklin Christian Academy 43-40. Boyd iced the game on the line late, hitting all eight of its free throws in the final quarter. Newby hit the team’s final two free throws with seven seconds to go to provide for the final margin. LeDuc finished with 13 points in the final game, followed by Newby with nine and Marisa Hillis with six. After the consolation game, the Lady Broncos were presented a plaque for their third-place finish and Hillis was named to the all-tournament team. Coach Newby reflected back on the season following the conclusion of the MTAC tournament. While the loss Friday hurt, coach Newby was still ecstatic with her team’s play this season. “It was disappointing not to win the tournament, but I was not disappointed with this year,” said Newby. “On the first day of practice, we set our goal to be the top team and we accomplished it. It was an outstanding season, one everybody should be proud of.” The Lady Broncos will lose Hillis, Newby and fellow senior posts Rachel Campbell and Bailey Gilliam. With Leduc, Hoover and a strong eighth-grade class on its way, Boyd hopes to contend for the MTAC title again next season. The Lady Broncos finished the year with a 17-2 record.


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