Down by 12 in the early moments of their Division 2-AA girls semifinal game against Harpeth Hall, it would have been easy for Briarcrest to think “not again.”
But instead of “not again,” it was more like “not this time.”
Elise Holden scored 26 points as the Saints overcame a slow start to defeat Harpeth Hall, 57-50, to advance to the state championship game. They’ll play Brentwood Academy, a 68-61 winner over Chattanooga Baylor, for the title Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena.
“I’m so excited,” said Holden, a senior. “We’ve lost in the semifinals the last three years so it would be really great to win it.”
They’ll get their chance thanks to a superb second quarter.
The Honey Bears led 12-0 before Holden got the Saints (23-6) on the board midway through the first quarter. By the end of the break, they were down 16-9 but then outscored Harpeth Hall 17-3 in the second quarter to take control of the game.
Briarcrest led 45-35 early in the fourth before Harpeth Hall rallied to get within two. But Holden — who went 13 of 17 from the line — made some clutch free throws late to seal it.
“We used four different defenses,” said Saints coach Lee Smith. “And we did a good job in transition. We felt like we could push them.
“I knew they wouldn’t panic. We’ve been here too many times. I know it’s easy to say now but we never doubted.”
Holden’s twin sister Brynn chipped in with seven points and a game-high nine rebounds against Harpeth Hall’s tall and physical frontline. Morgan Hunt added eight points.
If Briarcrest wins Saturday it will be the fifth title in school history but the first since 2004.
“I get teary-eyed just thinking about our seniors,” said Smith, referring to the Holdens, Kathryn Newman, Tatiana Love and Julianne Bryson.
“They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do and I just want it so bad for them.”