It wasn’t the result that Cloudland was hoping for.
The Lady ‘Landers were unable to overcome an early deficit as Loretto took a 63-31 victory in the TSSAA BlueCross Basketball Championships Class A Quarterfinals to end an incredible season for the blue and gold.
It was Cloudland’s first loss since December 28 against an opponent not named North Greene – who opened Class A tournament play on Wednesday afternoon.
Loretto jumped out early behind the play of Class A Miss Basketball Finalist Karly Weathers.
Jasmine Birchfield countered an opening Lady Mustang bucket, but Loretto scored the next 10 points. Mandy Benfield snapped the run with a jumper, and Saharra McKinney knocked down a 3-pointer.
Loretto, however, took a 22-7 lead into the second quarter.
Birchfield opened the Cloudland scoring in the second stanza with a tough bucket in the paint, and McKinney added another tough shot.
Heaven Caraway knocked down a 3-pointer to snap another Loretto run as the Lady Mustangs held a 32-14 advantage with just over five minutes left in the half. Shots by Birchfield and Caraway cut the score to 44-20 at the half.
In the third quarter, Loretto made the comeback trail even harder.
The Lady ‘Landers were held scoreless for the first seven minutes of the third quarter until Birchfield scored with 54 seconds showing on the clock. That allowed Loretto to take a 58-22 lead into the final quarter.
Cloudland, however, wasn’t going quietly.
Gracie Freeman opened the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and Caraway added a lay-up for the Lady ‘Landers. CHS continued to battle but was unable to make a run as a Birchfield free throw capped the Cloudland scoring for the game.
Birchfield finished with 10 points and nine rebounds to lead Cloudland. Caraway finished with eight points. Freeman and McKinney had six and five points, respectively.
Benfield finished with two points.
As a team, Cloudland finished 12-of-44 (27%) from the floor, while going 6-of-15 (40%) from behind the arc. Loretto was 23-of-38 (61%) from the floor and 7-of-12 (54%) from the 3-point line.
Weathers led Loretto with 21 points, while her sister Kensey Weathers had 14 points. Madelinn Tidwell and Autumn Buttrum had 10 points apiece.
Loretto advanced to play Clay County in the semifinals on Friday.