Cloudland has been waiting for this day for 364 days.
The Lady ‘Landers refused to have a repeat of last season’s heartbreaking loss as Cloudland took a 50-46 victory over Oneida in the Class A section on Saturday night in Oneida.
The win avenges last season’s heartbreaking loss in the same round on the same court.
With the win, Cloudland advances to the TSSAA BlueCross Basketball Championships at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro and will open play in the quarterfinals against Loretto on Wednesday at 12:30p Eastern time/11:30a Central time.
It is Cloudland’s sixth trip to the state tournament and the first since 2013.
Against the Lady Indians, it was a classic clash.
Gracie Freeman scored the game’s first points, and Karah Fields gave Cloudland an early 4-2 lead with her jumper. The Lady Indians, however, reeled off the next eight points and ended the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 12-6 advantage into the second quarter.
After Oneida pushed the lead to eight points to open the quarter, Mandy Benfield and Heaven Caraway hit huge shots to pull CHS back within a possession, but Oneida pushed the lead back out to six points.
Cloudland answered with a trey from Freeman and a bucket from Birchfield to pull back within one with 2:10 left in the half.
The Lady Indians went on a quick 5-0 run before Ella Benfield ended the half with a basket as Cloudland trailed 22-18 at the break.
The Lady ‘Landers wasn’t going to be deterred in the second half.
Caraway drained a 3-pointer to spark an 8-2 Cloudland run to open the third quarter. The Lady Indians countered with a 5-0 run of their own, but Fields drained a three-ball to even the score with 3:31 to play in the quarter.
Oneida edged ahead with a jumper, but Saharra McKinney and M. Benfield pushed Cloudland back into the lead with points.
The Lady ‘Landers held a 34-32 lead after three complete quarters.
Birchfield pushed the CHS lead to four points to open the final quarter of play. However, Oneida answered with five straight points to take a 37-36 lead with 4:50 left to play.
Cloudland took over from there.
Fields scored five straight points to regain the lead, and key points from Freeman and E. Benfield helped CHS hold a 46-41 lead with 1:28 left to play.
Oneida drained a 3-pointer to pull back within two points, but Birchfield and Freeman each knocked down a pair of free throws to push the lead to six points in the final minute and set off the celebration amongst a lively Roan Mountain contingent in attendance.
Fields and Freeman finished with 12 points to lead the way for the Blue and Gold, while Birchfield tossed in eight points. Caraway, and E. Benfield had six points apiece, while M. Benfield finished with four points.
Oneida saw Kelsey Pikes and Gracie Martin score 15 points each to lead the way.
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