Staff Photo: John Bohn Mountain View guard Iceis Walker (24) drives to the basket while defended by Cedar Shoals players including Mia Cooper (14), at left, during the second period of a game plated during the Longhorns Holiday Classic at Lanier High School Thursday.
SUGAR HILL -- Ty Bledsoe made certain Mountain View had a chance, but the Bears came up just short.
In the final two minutes, things were going poorly for the young Bears girls basketball team. Junior Kelsey Hutchins fouled out, taking her 16 points, three rebounds and three assists with her. Then Cedar Shoals' Quinnesha Turner hit two straight free throws -- a rare feat for a team that made just 13 of 30 in the game -- and the Bears were down five. Turner led all scorers with 17 points, despite making just 7 of 18 from the free throw line.
But Bledsoe hit her third 3-pointer of the game with 46 seconds left to bring Mountain View right back in it. She followed with a free throw to cut the deficit to one point and, with 14 seconds remaining, Mountain View forced a jump ball, taking the ball back with a chance for the lead.
But an away-from-the-ball foul stole the opportunity from the Bears as Cedar Shoals hung on to win 58-56 in the semifinals of the Longhorn Classic at Lanier. The Bears play Lanier/Whitewater today at 3 p.m. in the girls consolation game at Lanier.
"I just told them not to hang their heads," head coach Jackie Lindquist said of her postgame message. "We have to keep them from hanging their heads and keep getting better. They are good and have improved immense amounts."
The Bears are playing in the tournament after an 18-day holiday layoff and Lindquist conceded the long break sapped away some of her team's conditioning.
At 8-2, the third-year Mountain View team is off to a strong start, led by Bledsoe. On Thursday, the Bears started the game like this season. They forced five first-quarter turnovers, scored 19 points and built a lead as large as 10 points against Class AAAA Cedar Shoals (10-1). The junior Hutchins scored seven of her 16 points and Bria Virgil added six. Virgil ended the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
But the Jaguars fought back in the second quarter. They extended their defense to mid-court and started trapping. The extra pressure led to loose balls and held the Bears to just five points in the quarter.
"They are a good team," Lindquist said. "No good team is going to quit, just like we didn't."
Mountain View came out of the locker room and, sparked by a pair of 3s from Bledsoe, extended its lead to seven points. Bledsoe ended the game with 16 points, matching Hutchinson for the team high.
"Ty is our senior leader, she played very well," Lindquist said. "I feel bad for her not getting that finish at the end."
But the Jaguars defensive energy returned and Cedar Shoals rallied to take a 44-42 lead by the end of the quarter. Cedar Shoals' Raven Freeman hit two of her three 3s in the quarter, ending the game with 10 points.
The game went back-and-forth in the final quarter. The Bears went up four, then down three and eventually down five in the final minutes.
"We were just a step slow," Lindquist said, "a step slower than them."