The Van Buren County Eaglette basketball team (28-4), led by star senior Lakelyn Bouldin, who was named Miss Tennessee Basketball in Class A Tuesday night, made its first appearance in the state tournament in program history Thursday against the Gibson County Lady Pioneers (35-0) in an electrifying atmosphere at MTSU’s Murphy Center.
Van Buren County fell short, 70-66, in a tight game that went into overtime.
Concerning the team making it to the state tournament for the first time in program history, Bouldin said, “This is a goal my teammates and I have had since we were in the third grade and we accomplished that.”
The Eaglettes were led by an unbelievable performance by Bouldin, who finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds and three assists, in her final game as an Eaglette. She will enroll at UT-Chattanooga this fall, where she signed a letter of intent in November, to continue her basketball career. The team was also led by fellow seniors Tilly Dodson and Carly Cole, who had 15 and nine points, respectfully.
Both offenses started off slow, but the Eaglettes, started to hit on all cylinders from behind the arc, and controlled much of the opening quarter. Bouldin scored four points and her team led in a close game, 13-6 at the end of one quarter. Things started to get interesting at the start of the second quarter, as both teams seemingly traded basket after basket.
With the Eaglettes leading 28-25, with less than a second on the clock, the Lady Pioneers threw in the inbound pass to send it to the half, but Bouldin intercepted the inbound pass, and beat the buzzer to push the Eaglette lead to 30-25 at the half. Bouldin finished the half with 12 points. The Lady Pioneers didn’t have an answer for Bouldin or the rest of the Eaglettes, as they never managed to lead the entire first half.
Van Buren County came out of the halftime break continuing to fire from 3-point range and pushed the lead to double digits early in the third quarter, but the Lady Pioneers wouldn’t go away, forcing multiple turnovers and playing solid defense, to trim the Eaglette lead to one, 47-46, at the end of the third. Bouldin had 17 points through three quarters, and needed to be the leader she had been all season heading into the fourth.
The Lady Pioneers finally took the lead away from the Eaglettes early in the fourth, but the Eaglettes’ never-give-up attitude led to an amazing finish to end the quarter. The Lady Pioneers were up 62-60 with :10 left and the Eaglettes had one final chance to drive the court and score, and they did just that. Bouldin drove the court, but missed, then grabbed her own rebound, and put up a game-tying shot that went in to send the game to overtime tied 62-62 thanks to Bouldin’s second buzzer beater of the game. Bouldin finished regulation with 24 points.
The Lady Pioneers took the lead back early in OT and never looked back, and ultimately ended the magnificent career of Bouldin, as an Eaglette, pulling out the win 70-66, and denying Bouldin of her 100th win at Van Buren County. Bouldin ended her career as the all-time scoring leader for Van Buren County in a heartbreaking defeat, and one of the best all-around players in recent memory for the program.
Concerning her time as an Eaglette Bouldin said, “I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to play at Van Buren County. It was one of the best seasons I’ve ever been a part of, and I loved the chemistry this team had with each other.”
Van Buren County head coach Cheryl Cole said this about her time coaching Bouldin. “I have coached her since middle school, and I’m very proud of all of her accomplishments while at Van Buren County.”