Karns girls ‘go back to work’ after bowing in district finals

By Steve Williams

The bright lights of a district championship game and going against tradition-rich Oak Ridge may have contributed to Karns’ shooting woes in its biggest game in years.

But first-year head coach Lauren Trent wasn’t going to let it tarnish the Lady Beavers’ sparkling season after their 65-47 loss in the District 3-4A finals last week at Powell High

“At the end of the day, I felt like they made shots and we didn’t,” said Trent. “You’re not going to win a basketball game if you can’t make shots.

“Credit to Oak Ridge,” added Trent. “They played really well. They’re a young team, but also a veteran team in that they’ve been there before. And our girls haven’t and I think in moments that showed.”

Oak Ridge (20-9) extended its streak of district tourney titles to eight.

Madison Perrin, a 5-8 junior, made her first of four 3-pointers to give Karns a 3-2 advantage in the early going – its only lead in the game.

The cold-shooting Lady Beavers fell behind 12-3 but rallied to within two points (14-12) by the end of the first period. However, sophomore standout Ze’Yana Stewart came alive for the Lady Wildcats, who jumped out to a 22-12 command at the start of the second period.

After a 3-point shot by senior Kannon Green, Stewart scored on a floater in the lane, a fast-break layup and a basket inside.

Stewart finished with 30 points.

A 3-point bank shot from the top of the circle by Perrin pulled Karns within seven (28-21) at halftime. The Lady Beavers got as close as five points (34-29) when Perrin hit again from 3-point land midway into the third period. But OR scored the last five points of the quarter to build its lead to 43-32.

A 3-point shot from the left wing by sophomore Lauren Martin pulled Karns within eight (43-35) early in the final period, but the Lady Beavers wouldn’t get any closer.

In addition to Stewart’s big game, the Lady Wildcats also got 11 points (eight in the final period) from junior Bella Boone on her birthday. Sophomore Ayana Porter chipped in 10.

Perrin fired in two more 3-pointers in the second half and totaled 16 points to lead Karns. Martin scored 13 points, including three treys. The Lady Beavers also got seven points from sophomore Reese Roberts and five from her twin sister Rylee. Junior Abby Harris added four.

Karns’ best 2-point score of the game came on a weave play, with a wide-open YuYu Kennedy catching the last pass and scoring inside.

The Lady Beavers (19-11) were scheduled to host Farragut in a Region 2-4A quarterfinal game Friday. Karns, which didn’t have any seniors on its roster, finished second in the district at 8-2 in the regular season.

It’s the best season in years for the Lady Beavers.

“I hope our girls understand the gravity of that, because they are so competitive and they wanted to win more than anybody,” said Coach Trent. “They’ve given our entire school and community something to be really proud of.”

Trent, who was selected Coach of the Year in District 3-4A, believes this season has been the launching pad for having a good program.

“When I took the job in March, I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “We played summer ball and it was atrocious. We won like two of 15 games. I told the girls I only knew one thing to do, and that’s go to work. That included me, our coaching staff and our players. They’ve fought and changed the culture. We’ve had a lot of kids transfer or quit. And these 12 have stayed.

“I’m proud of my girls. I’m proud of our season. I’m proud that we played for a district championship. You always want more, but I told them ‘Let it drive them. Let it make them better.’ We’ve got to go back to work and prepare for our region game.”

And the future.