‘Great season’ ends in sectional for HVA girls

MORRISTOWN --- Hardin Valley Academy’s girls historic 2016-17 season came to an end Saturday night, March 4, with an 80-59 loss to Morristown West at The Michael K. Reed Gymnasium.

It was a bittersweet night for head coach Jennifer Galloway and the Lady Hawks, who reached the state sectional round for the first time in school history.

“I’m really proud of our girls. We had a great season,” Galloway said after her squad saw its magical season end with the loss to the Lady Trojans. “We had a good season, but the best thing about this is that our girls aren’t satisfied with this.

“I think this will motivate us and spur us to do better next year.”

HVA [23-10] might have seen its most recent campaign come to a bitter end, but the Lady Hawks accomplished some big things.

Hardin Valley beat Bearden twice and knocked the Lady Bulldogs from the ranks of the unbeaten when Paige Gentry hit a last-second game-winning shot at BHS Jan. 27. The Lady Hawks also beat Bearden in the third-place game of the District 4-AAA Tournament.

HVA also beat Maryville three times including the Region 2-AAA Tournament semifinal. The Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Rebels were predicted to be two of the preseason favorites to win the district. The Lady Hawks also swept rival Farragut this year.

And the future appears bright for Hardin Valley.

“This game got us some sub-state experience,” said Galloway, who saw her team reach the Region 2-AAA championship game for the first time. “We have a lot to build on and we have a lot of good kids coming back.”

The Lady Hawks, Region 2-AAA runners-up, got off to a fast start in Morristown against the Region 1-AAA champions. Hardin Valley led 14-12 before the Lady Trojans stormed back and scored the final six points of the first quarter to take an 18-14 lead.

Morristown West (30-3) then turned up the heat on defense and used a 19-9 second-quarter run to blow things open. The Lady Trojans had a 37-23 lead at halftime and held the upper hand the rest of the way.

Hardin Valley also found itself in foul trouble much of the night.

Johnny Galyon, Morristown West head coach, said he knew his team had to press in order to win and a make a fourth consecutive trip to the Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro.

“I don’t think we played a bigger team this year,” Galyon said. “We were worried about their size and we knew that if it was a half-court game, we would have trouble with their size.

“They have some good players and Jennifer does a great job with them. I really just think that my kids weren’t going to be denied tonight. We got them in some foul trouble tonight.”

Abbey Cornelius paced HVA with 16 points. Paige Gentry added 12 and senior Symphony Buxton scored 10.

Buxton was one of four seniors to finish their HVA career. Bekah Hampton, Madison Clevenger and Ana Ellison also played their last high school game Saturday and Galloway said they each left an impact on her program.

“I’m really proud of our seniors,” she said. “They were all leaders in their own way.”

The Lady Trojans had four players score in double figures. Sydney Newsome led all scorers with 27 points. Blayre Shultz added 14. Macey Hefner had 11 and Caroline Harville finished with 10.