BY DARREN REESE
NEW TAZEWELL - Ashton Wykle started the game hot and the rest of the South Greene team followed suit in the District 2-AA semifinals Saturday evening.
The sophomore guard made four three pointers in the first 4:08 of the game and the Lady Rebels opened up a 27-11 first-quarter lead before going on to defeat West Greene 82-40 at Claiborne High.
The win earned second-seeded South Greene a berth in tonight's championship against No. 1 seed Grainger - the state's top ranked Class AA team.
"We've seen a lot more zone defense this year, and our girls have taken that as a personal challenge to shoot the long ball well," South Greene head coach Stephen Gregg said.
"They responded today. Ashton got us started and that helped us open up our offense early."
South Greene enjoyed a balanced offensive output as four players reached double figures and eight scored five points or more.
Wykle led the way with 18 points, followed by Alora Ricker with 16, Maelyn Cutshaw with 14 and Cheyenne Upton with 10.
Upton also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Charlotte Murphy led West Greene with 13 points.
The senior was coming off a triple-double effort (21 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks) the night before in an opening-round upset of Greeneville. Gregg said the goal of his Lady Rebels was to make other West Greene players beat them.
"Our game plan was to speed them up and try to get someone other than Charlotte to trigger their offense," Gregg explained. "I guess it limited Charlotte's touches inside tonight."
Haley Vradenburgh added eight points for the Lady Buffaloes.
South Greene forced 18 turnovers in the first half to open up a 50-24 advantage. The Lady Rebels made 16-of-33 shots in the first 16 minutes.
The starters remained in the game for both teams in the third quarter and the margin grew to as many as 33 points on a couple of occasions.
Gregg substituted his bench in the fourth. The Lady Rebels took a 72-36 lead with 5:52 left and the clock ran continuously the rest of the game.