BLOUNTVILLE — Happy Valley fought back twice. A third time was not in the cards.
The Lady Jr. Warriors were unable to overcome a third charge of buckets from Mosheim in the second half, falling 31-24 in Tuesday’s TMSAA Area 1 girls semifinal at Blountville Middle School’s Tigers Den.
Despite the loss, Happy Valley’s state sectional hopes are still alive. The Lady Jr. Warriors need a win over Bluff City in Thursday’s third-place game.
“I told them in the dressing room, we dug ourselves a hole,” said HV coach Dana Hill. “But we still have an opportunity to go to state and that’s what our goal was. Only having two kids back from last year and advancing this far is really a big accomplishment for them.
“We’re not done yet. We dug ourselves a hole, but we’re going to come out fighting Thursday. We’ll see what happens.”
The inside presence of twin sisters Taylor Payne and Kristin Payne was the decisive factor for the Lady Indians. Taylor hit three key buckets in the fourth quarter and led the visitors with 14 points, while sister Kristen scored six of her nine in the first half.
“They’re a very good team,” Hill said of Mosheim. “They’re not very big, but defensively they play really well. I’m very impressed with their program as a whole.”
The Payne sisters led their team to a 4-0 lead to open the first quarter. Happy Valley responded with a trey from MacKenzie Davis, adding buckets from Jamie Lee Clark and Kaylee Johnson to spark a 7-6 lead at the end of the frame.
Things couldn’t have gone any worse for Happy Valley at the top of the second quarter. The purple and gold used a 10-0 scoring run behind Breanna Daniels and Jada Hensley to claim a nine-point lead, then held the Lady Jr. Warriors to four points the rest of the way for a seven-point halftime lead.
Happy Valley charged back in the third quarter, however, as two buckets from Johnson and field goals from Clark and Sydney Puckett returned the lead to the maroon and white.
Taylor Payne put Mosheim back in front with an inside bucket, then Marissa Baker drove the length of the floor for a layup with three seconds remaining to swing the momentum and put the Lady Indians in front by three entering the fourth.
Turnovers plagued Happy Valley in the fourth as the Payne sisters opened with three points for a six-point lead. Clark stalled the momentum with a trey for the Lady Warriors, but Taylor Payne dropped consecutive buckets to make it a seven-point game.
Happy Valley got as close as five, but mistakes kept the team from making a charge in the closing moments.
“We fought back and they really played hard in the second half,” said Hill. “We just made too many mistakes. At this level and at this caliber of play, you can’t make mistakes against the team that we did and we made very uncharacteristic mistakes. It’s unlike us. We haven’t made mistakes like that all year long. I don’t know if it was nerves or what it was, but these are middle school kids and I understand that completely.”
Offensively, Clark led the Lady Jr. Warriors with eight points, while Johnson totaled seven.
Thursday’s game at Blountville tips off at 4 p.m.