By Mike Blackerby
GREENEVILLE – Oak Ridge standout Jada Guinn just wasn’t herself until it mattered most Wednesday in the first round of the Andrew Johnson Bank Ladies Classic.
Oak Ridge’s senior point guard, shaking off fatigue and a sub-par performance, scored the game-winning bucket at the buzzer as the Lady Wildcats (12-2) slipped past Daniel Boone 50-48 at Hal Henard Gym.
With the game tied 48-48 with 5.8 seconds to play, Guinn took the inbounds pass and raced the length of the court against Daniel Boone’s full-court pressure to tally on a layup and give Oak Ridge its ninth win in a row.
The win avenged a 62-51 loss by Oak Ridge to the Lady Trailblazers in last year’s Class AAA sectionals.
“Towards the end of the game I was just thinking about how we played against them last year, and I didn’t want to lose to them again,” said Guinn.
The Tennessee Tech signee scored 20 points on 7-for-20 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Guinn and the Lady Wildcats had the last three days off after returning from the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix.
Oak Ridge won the Mike Desper Division at the prestigious Arizona tournament, sweeping four games with Guinn earning MVP honors.
She admitted the trip took its toll.
“I was tired,” she said. “It was kind of a quick turnaround (from Phoenix).”
Lady Wildcats coach Paige Redman said the western excursion obviously had an effect on Oak Ridge Wednesday as it returned to the court.
“We haven’t touched a basketball since Phoenix,” said Redman.
“I expected them to be sluggish, but their lack of energy was more than I anticipated. I hate to use it as an excuse, but I didn’t play four games in Phoenix and I felt like I got hit by a bus.”
Guinn didn’t even score until the 4:51 mark of the second quarter when she picked off a pass and raced in for a layup.
She was one of four exhausted Lady Wildcats who played at least 30 minutes against Daniel Boone (9-5).
Guinn and Khamari Mitchell-Steen both played the full 32 minutes.
Bri Dunbar played 31 minutes and Shatyrah Copeland logged 30 minutes as Oak Ridge’s starters scored all 50 points for the Lady Wildcats.
Oak Ridge struggled all afternoon to find its shooting touch.
The Lady Wildcats were just 37.3 percent (19 of 51) from the field.
Oak Ridge scored seven unanswered points in the final 1:38 to pull out the win.
Dunbar bombed in a clutch 3-pointer to edge the Lady Wildcats closer at 48-46.
Mitchell-Steen took a charge with 48 seconds to play to give Oak Ridge the ball.
Gunn dropped in a 13-foot jumper in the lane with 21 seconds remaining to knot the count at 48-all.
Daniel Boone’s Jaycie Jenkins missed on the Lady Trailblazers’ next possession and Oak Ridge forced the jump ball on the rebound, setting up Guinn’s game-winning drive.
Redman said she drew up a final play, but Guinn went into freelance mode when Daniel Boone jumped into a full-court press.
“Jada, when she gets the ball in her hands, can go and create – and that’s what she did,” explained Redman.
Dunbar, a junior guard for OR, was 3 of 6 from 3-point range and hit several clutch shots for the Lady Wildcats when Daniel Boone looked like it might be about to pull away.
Dunbar had 14 points and 5 rebounds.
“Bri and Shatyrah Copeland had energy for us the entire game – even defensively,” said Redman.
Copeland, a senior post, had nine points and battled hard inside, claiming nine rebounds.
Sophomore guard Mitchell-Steen had 13 points for the Lady Wildcats.
Jenkins scored 14 points to top the Lady Trailblazers. Madi Runnels added 13.
Oak Ridge is back in action at the Greeneville tournament at 4 p.m. Thursday against either West Greene or George Rogers Clark (Ky.).
Semifinal play is Friday with the championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday.