Brentwood Academy took any suspense out of the game early, taking control of the game with a 16-3 run in the first quarter before winning 66-37 in the Division 2-AA girls semifinals at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena. The Eagles (25-6) will go for their fourth straight championship Saturday at 1 p.m. against Ensworth, which eliminated Father Ryan in the other semifinal.
For the Saints, who end the season 22-9, it will be another long ride back to Memphis after a disappointing state tournament appearance. One of Shelby County's most consistent programs, Briarcrest has advanced to the final four in seven of the last eight years, finishing runner-up three times and losing four times in the semis. Four times, they've had their season ended by Brentwood Academy.
But while those teams were laden with veteran standouts, this year's roster features only one senior, Morgan Hunt, who finished with four points.
"We have some good eighth-graders coming up so I'm optimistic," said Smith. "I feel really good about the future ... We just kind of got away from who we are. Not to discredit them, though; they're a very good team."
Briarcrest led 6-5 before the Eagles went on their decisive run to take a 21-8 lead after the first eight minutes. The Saints were never able to get it under double figures after that.
There were several issues. The Saints committed 25 turnovers and lost the rebounding battle 38-22. Briarcrest shot 34.1 percent from the floor (14 of 41) while Brentwood Academy connected on almost 50 percent of its attempts.
"Poor decision-making," said Savanna Owens. "And when you get behind against a team like that ... it's hard to dig yourself out."
Added Smith, "Offensively, I thought that we didn't panic. We knew what we wanted ... but we allowed one or two turnovers to get to us and we never did get ourselves settled down. I called two timeouts early in the first quarter trying to get us settled but we never got on track.
"And they killed us on the boards."
Owens, a junior, turned in a strong performance with 18 points on 7 of 15 shooting from the floor (2 of 6 from behind the arc). No other Saint reached double-digits though.
The Eagles got excellent balance, led by 14 from Maggie Brown. Kathryn Stockhoff scored 11 while Blair Schoenwald and Kallie Searcy added 10 apiece.