|Ridgeway's Breounna Humphrey falls as she's defended by Blackman's Meme Jackson (22) and Micah Norris (11) in the first half of their TSSAA Division I-AAA championship basketball game Saturday, March 8, 2014, in Murfreesboro, Tenn.|
There was a moment in the second quarter of Saturday’s TSSAA BlueCross AAA girls basketball championship game when a simple inbounds pass — with no pressure being applied — ended up nowhere near its intended target, Brandi Beasley.
The Ridgeway sophomore guard looked at the teammate who threw it with a mixture of confusion and exasperation.
That’s the kind of day it was for the Roadrunners.
Murfreesboro Blackman, ranked No. 1 in the nation in the MaxPreps and USA Today polls, capped a 34-1 season with a 65-44 victory over Ridgeway at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center. The Roadrunners, who were playing in their first title game, end the season with a 30-4 mark.
“We came out strong,” said junior guard Oreona Brown. “We just needed more strength.”
And more buckets.
The game was decided in the first half when Ridgeway shot just 28.6 percent from the floor, converting 6 of 21 attempts. The Blaze, meanwhile, was living up to its nickname, going 13 of 22 (59.1) percent.
Blackman led at the half, 31-16.
“We liked the way we matched up against them,” said Ridgeway coach Rhonda Kendall. “We had a lot of balls that ran in and out and we missed too many layups. We got good looks.”
While Ridgeway was struggling to convert, Blackman was getting a strong performance from pretty much everyone, including tournament Most Valuable Player Crystal Dangerfield, who scored 19 points.
“We settled in and started reversing the ball and then attacking,” said Blaze coach Chad Hibdon. “And Crystal did a good job of pushing the ball.”
Blackman ended the game shooting 54 percent, compared with 30 for the Roadrunners.
“They have a lot of weapons,” said Kendall. “And they shot the ball very effectively.”
And with the rebounding and turnover battles pretty much even, that was the difference.
Beasley capped an excellent tournament by scoring 16 to lead Ridgeway. Brown added 13 and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Senior Ashley Jackson, who wasn’t expected to play after spraining her ankle in Friday’s semifinal victory over Rossview, gritted her way through seven minutes, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds to join Beasley and Brown on the All-Tournament team.
“I think we accomplished a lot,” said Beasley, who will be one of several key returning players that should have Ridgeway right back in the state title chase next year.
“We worked hard and it was a blessing to get here. I’m glad we were here.”
Murfreesboro Blackman (65) — Norris 5, Jackson 14, Bond 5, Dangerfield 19, Johnson 19, Williams 3.
Ridgeway (44) — Brandi Beasley 16, Oreonna Brown 13, Breoynna Humphrey 3, Ashley Jackson 6, Tierany Paylor 6.
Blackman / 13 / 18 / 11 / 23—65
Ridgeway / 7 / 9 / 7 / 21—44
Records — Murfreesboro Blackman 34-1, Ridgeway 30-4.