GREENEVILLE A young and talented Scinece Hill squad took control in the second quarter and never looked back to claim the championship of the 22nd annual LandAir Ladies Classic Friday night with a 55-45 victory over Mt. Juliet at Hal Henard Gym.
After seven lead changes in the first quarter, the Lady Toppers (16-0) out scored Mt. Juliet 14-5 in the second quarter and took a 26-17 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
Two minutes into the third, the Johnson City squad had upped its lead to 32-20.
But the Lady Bears (14-2) came clawing back as freshman Jamasha Jackson nailing a pair of 3-pointers with the second cutting the lead to 36-30 in the middle of the third.
But Science Hill closed the quarter with a dagger when Keisha Gregory sank a trey from the deep corner with the clock running down to go into the fourth up 41-33.
The Lady Bears leaned on posts Caya Williams and Sally McCabe to trim the lead to 45-39 early in the fourth, but the Toppers depth appeared to take a toll on the Lady Bears.
Williams finished with 21 points and four rebounds while McCabe had nine points and a team high six rebounds before fouling out. Jackson and Helen Mitchner each had six points in the loss.
Mt. Juliet was just 6-of-12 at the free throw line and was out-rebounded 29-228.
Science Hill placed three in double figures -- Gabby Lyon with 13, Shy Copney with 10 and tournament MVP Tianna Tarter with 10.
ON THURSDAY-- The Lady Bears reached the tournament finals with a 52-37 win over Franklin County Thursday evening to reach its third straight Landair Classic championship game.
Middle Tennessee State signee Caya Williams canned 12-of-15 shots on her way to a game-high 25 points for the Bears (14-1), which decided matters in the first four minutes by scoring 15 unanswered points.
"We took advantage of some opportunities," Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. "They were playing a junk defense and left some people unguarded. We were able to knock down those shots."
The Rebelettes (7-10) managed to cut the deficit to 23-20 early in the second quarter as Chelsea Holman drained a couple of 3s while Danielle Jordan worked for six points and four assists.
But the Lady Bears restored order by ripping off the half's last 11 points, then gradually built the lead as high as 22 in the fourth quarter.
Fryer said his team has looked forward to another crack at the championship it won in 2009, then lost last year to Hoover (Ala.).
"It would mean a lot to win another title here because we enjoy coming up here so much," he said. "The girls remember how they felt after losing last year."
Wilson Central's Lady Wildcats were scheduled to take on Christian Academy of Knoxville Friday afternoonin the fifth place game of the LandAir Ladies Classic.
Coach Bud Brandon's team had no problems in eliminating Seymour 62-27 in Thursday's consolation bracket after grabbing a 20-10 first quarter lead.
The Lady Wildcats (8-3) improved the lead to 35-18 by intermission. Their impressive attack was led by Taylor Peterson, a Palm Beach Atlantic signee, with 21 points, and Sydney Vanlandingham with 19 proved to be too much for the Eagles to overcome.
Victoria Nelson scored 10 points in a losing effort for the Eagles (8-7).