A slow start and struggle to catch up made for a tough ending to an otherwise solid season by the Father Ryan girls basketball team (22-4) in a 50-38 loss in the D-II AA state semifinal at Tennessee Tech on Friday afternoon against Knoxville Catholic (15-16).
 
“You know, they outplayed us tonight,” said Father Ryan head coach Tony McLeod. “They shot the ball well. We did not defend like we normally do. This was one game, and it did not define the season we have had. It was a special season to get here with everything going on.”
 
In the first quarter, Father Ryan kept it close with made free throws and jumpers by senior Lilly Wilder and junior Mary Mackie, but trailed 13-8.
 
Knoxville Catholic played tight defense and got their offensive scoring rolling in the second quarter with the trio of sophomore Jazmin Williams, freshman Sydney Mains and sophomore Grayce Lane, capitalizing with 3-pointers and mid-range baskets to extend their lead into halftime, 31-13.
 
Father Ryan continued to heat up from behind the arc in the third quarter with baskets by senior Jalia Greenlee and Mains to extend their margin 39-20.
 
In the fourth quarter, Father Ryan’s offense gained momentum and cut the deficit to 12, with a few minutes remaining in the contest, thanks to the jumpers and long-range shots by Wilder, seniors Maddie Dooling and Sydnee Clunan, and junior Christine Quitalig. However, the opponent defense made key stops in the final minutes to hold the lead, as Father Ryan fell to Knoxville Catholic, 50-38.
 
Knoxville Catholic’s leading scorers were Mains with 23 points, and Greenlee and sophomore Jazmin Williams with 12 points each.
 
Father Ryan’s point leaders were Wilder with 12 points and Mackie with 10.
 
“They have been our leading scorers all year,” said Coach McLeod. “They do a good job taking advantage of what the defense gives them. They both are just persistent.”
 
Knoxville Catholic will advance to the state championship game against Hutchinson School at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
 
This loss brings Father Ryan’s season to an end.
 
“I am going to remember the six seniors and the team chemistry we had overall,” said Coach McLeod. “They went through a lot this year having a new coach, the pandemic going on, games being canceled, things being moved to different gyms, and power outages. In a few days, I am going to remember all the fun we had and the love that these girls had for each other.”

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