Although the TCPS girls picked up their 15th win of the season Tuesday in The Hawks Nest against Knoxville Christian, Locklear wants the Lady Birds to fly from the Nest in full dive mode rather than waiting to be motivated at halftime.
The Hawks fell behind early, but caught and passed the Knoxville Christian boys to hang on and seal a No. 3-seed in the upcoming tournament with a 44-40 win over the Knights.
“They just want to see me yell evidently, and stomp my feet around” said Locklear after the TCPS Senior Night celebration. “Since the first game coming back from our Christmas break we have not been able to start a game hard and strong and stay that way for some reason, I don’t know what it is. But fortunately we’ve been really good this season that when we start that way the second half is usually a different story after that little bit of motivation from the coaches at halftime.”
The Lady Hawks picked up the pace in the second quarter building a 5-3 lead to 9-3 with baskets from Natalie Calfee and Logan Hall. Knoxville Christian came back to make in a 10-8 game with just over two minutes left in the half. Calfee — who finished the night with 10 points — added two more from the floor and another from the free-throw line to go with tosses by Laura Rabuano to make it a 15-9 game at halftime.
Hall and Neely Benton combined to put the Lady Hawks out front of the Lady Knights by 10 early in the third seconds before Benton stretched the nylons for a 3-pointer from the right corner to make it a 22-11 game. Merritt Jenkins kept TCPS out front by 10 with her fifth point of the quarter with just under a minute left to put the Lady Hawks on top 27-17.
The Lady Knights scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to cut the TCPS lead to 27-24 before Benton connected for her second 3 of the night from the right win. KC responded with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 30-30 with 33:34 left to play.
Calfee put the Lady Hawks back out front with two from the paint with 2:47 to go then added two more to make it 34-30. Hall capped the six-point run streaking through the lane on a perfectly executed in bounds play for the final field goal of the night for the Lady Hawks. Both teams added one more free throw to cap the scoring.
“Tonight they knew how important this was. There is a lot emotion during Senior Night. Whether that was the reason (for the slow start) I’m not sure. I’m just glad they found a way to score those last few baskets, secure the lead and win in the end,” said Locklear.
The Lady Hawks will return to the practice court looking for first half motivation before next week’s tournament.
“We’ve got a few days to practice and that’s what we are going to be working on,” said Locklear of regaining a strong start. We’re going to make sure we have all the glitches out and we’re ready to roll.”
In the night’s closer, the Knights from Knoxville were looking to steal the day from the Hawks of TCPS and spoil the festive Senior Night evening as well as a high tournament seed.
It took some second half heroics from Jacob Coleman and Robbie Davis to help pull the Hawks to the lead and lock up the 44-40 win.
Coleman led the Hawks in scoring with 19 points followed by Davis with 12.
“It was a huge win. We actually were playing for a third seed in the tournament. Once we got aggressive in the second half and picked up our defensive intensity we kind of got going,” said Hawks coach Frank Walker. “Jacob Coleman came through for us and was real aggressive. Robbie Davis played really big for us with his rebounds. Val Berger had his best game of the season. It was an all around team game tonight.”
The teams battled point-for-point in the first quarter with the Knights taking an 11-9 lead into the second. Knox Christian pulled to a 17-9 lead late in the half holding the Hawks to only four second quarter points and taking a 19-13 lead into the break.
Coleman cut the KC lead to five points with a 3 to open the third quarter and cut the Knights lead to 23-21 with a 3-point play following a Val Berger field goal. With 4:09 left in the third quarter, Davis played some string music from the left corner with his second 3 to close the gap to 28-21. Two free tosses and a field goal by Coleman put the Hawks out front 30-27 to close out the third period.
Berger, Coleman, Davis and Luke Benton combined to put the Hawks on top 38-28 midway through the fourth quarter before the Knights let loose with a barrage of four straight 3s to pull within two points of TCPS at 42-40. From there, the Hawks defense held its ground and Coleman put the game on ice with two free throws with 15 seconds left.
“The guys responded to being down in the first half and came out and got a win. They held off a big run there at the end, those guys got hot. They (KC) hit four 3s in a row and I thought we were going to give this game away. But we hung in there and continued to fight. Hats off to the kids,” said a pleased and relieved Walker. “Our guys have fought all year, they have responded to me and I’ve got to give a big up to the kids.”
LADY HAWKS 37, LADY KNIGHTS 31
Knoxville Christian 3 6 11 11 — 31
Tennessee Christian 5 10 12 10 — 36
Knoxville Christian (31) — Rebecca Leone 16, Rachel Roop 10, Brown 5, Fillmore 1, Barrett, Chien, Pham.
Tennessee Christian (36) — Natalie Calfee 10, Benton 9, Hall 6, Jenkins 5, Rabuano 4, Claypoole 3, Armao, Carter, Howard.
3-point goals: KC 1 (Leone); TCPS 3 (Benton 2, Claypoole 1).
Records: Knoxville Christian 9-12, Tennessee Christian 15-4.
HAWKS 44, KNIGHTS 40
Knoxville Christian 11 8 8 13 — 40
Tennessee Christian 9 4 17 14 — 44
Knoxville Christian (40) — TJ Brown 20, Brent Richey 10, McClain 6, Forrester 4, Lumsdaine.
Tennessee Christian (44) — Jacob Coleman 19, Robbie Davis 12, Berger 9, Benton 4, Wycoff, Armao.
3-point goals: KC 5 (Brown 3, Richey 2); TCPS 2 (Davis).
Records: Knoxville Christian 18-8, Tennessee Christian 11-11.