By JESSE SMITHEY
MURFREESBORO — Jacelyn Stone bent over at mid court, grabbed her shorts right at her knees and accepted the moment at hand Wednesday night.
Just 4.6 seconds remained on the clock at MTSU’s Murphy Center, and her Meigs County basketball team was about to be eliminated in the Class AA state quarterfinals.
She didn’t lament the end of her senior season very long. Perhaps a second or two. Then, she stood up and finished her responsibilities for the Lady Tigers, getting the inbounds pass and dribbling down for one last shot.
That shot didn’t fall, essentially serving as a microcosm of Meigs’ second half in the 41-30 loss to Westview.
She finished with seven points on three-for-12 shooting. No player on either squad finished in double figures scoring.
“It’s pretty hard. It hasn’t set in now that I won’t be playing high school basketball anymore,” she said. “But, we did what we can do. We went out trying, and I’m thankful for that.
“But it’s never easy playing your last game in high school.”
Meigs County showed no first-quarter jitters despite having not played a state tournament game since 2014. It shot 67 percent in the first eight minutes, and the Lady Tigers led 10-3 over a program making its ninth consecutive appearance.
Stone had all seven of her points in the first half to lead the way, and Meigs’ defense kept Westview off kilter from the get go. Westview sophomore guard Jada Harrison was 0-for-6 from the floor through two quarters.
“They defended my drive well,” said Harrison, who has three SEC offers.
Westview finally found its footing late in the first half, though. Avery Leyhue popped in a 3 down the stretch to cut Meigs’ lead to one point, and the Lady Chargers’ 10-5 run made it 17-15 Meigs at the break.
A 9-0 run out of the break put the momentum in Westview’s favor for good. Harrison scored the first four points in the spurt, and Emerson Leyhue’s 3 made it 24-17 Westview, prompting a Meigs timeout.
That advantage matured to 29-19 with one quarter to play. Meigs scored just two points in the third quarter on 1-for-8 shooting.
“Once you start playing good defense, the offense comes,” said Harrison.
The Lady Tigers cut the lead to eight three times in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but Westview’s conspicuous size advantage proved a problem.
Avery and Emerson Leyhue are both 5-foot-10 or taller, and Angelina Barr is 6-1
Meigs had to work the ball methodically in the fourth to try to find a decent shot. That zapped the clock and made it difficult to get inside the perimeter to score.
Meigs trailed just 34-28 with 3 minutes to play, but Avery Leyhue hit a 3 to bump the lead up out of reach.
“We didn’t really move the basketball as well as we did early. We had a little pop about us,” said Meigs County coach Jason Powell. “The second half, we wilted a little bit.
“We don’t have a lot of great depth. … For the most part this year, we played five or six kids. Maybe seven. We haven’t gone a lot deeper than that. But it’s worked. I just told them, ‘You can be tired all spring or summer. This is it.'”