The Northpoint Christian School girls' basketball team's run for three straight Tennessee Division II-A state championships ended Thursday afternoon in a one-point nail biter, as Webb School of Knoxville (24-7) defeated the Lady Trojans 48-47 at Allen Arena in Nashville.
The loss ended Northpoint's 19-game winning streak and ended the Lady Trojans' year at 29-3. Webb School will enter Saturday's state championship game against Franklin Road Academy, which advanced with a 53-48 semi-final win over University School of Jackson.
"I thought both teams played really hard but the ball didn't bounce the right way for us at the end," said Lady Trojan coach Barry Gray. "Those kind of losses are tough when you have a good chance to win the game, but they got five points in two trips and that was the difference."
Webb took a 26-21 halftime lead with Casey Collier hitting all 10 of her points in the first half. Northpoint answered with the senior tandem of Lauren Gross and Jade Wells each finishing the half with seven.
The Lady Trojans took an 11-10 lead after one quarter, but Webb went on a run to give the Lady Spartans a 17-12 lead early in the second quarter.
Northpoint answered with their own string of points for an 18-17 lead but Webb answered again for a 24-18 edge before finishing the half with the five-point lead.
The Lady Trojans got within 35-34 after three quarters when Caroline Swindoll scored a three-pointer with 1:19 left before quarter break, which set in motion a tense fourth quarter for both teams.
Northpoint opened the period with five straight points for a 39-35 lead with a three-pointer from Gross and a pair of free throws from Lindley Gaines.
After Haley Luttrell tied it at 39-39 for Webb, Northpoint again took a four-point lead when Gaines struck for two more at the free throw line with 1:17 remaining.
Webb fought back but the Lady Trojans again had a four-point edge with Micaela Brown netting two free throws for a 45-41 advantage with 57 seconds left.
Gross added two more free throws for a 47-43 lead with 47 seconds left but those would be the final points for Northpoint.
Macy Barnes' three-pointer with 33 seconds left and Luttrell's two free throws with 18 seconds remaining would be the deciding points in the victory for the Lady Spartans.
The loss ended a Northpoint career for Gross and Wells that featured a record of 110-12, four Final Four appearances and two state titles.
"It hurts," Gross said. "It hurts bad. Whatever way the Lord was going to be glorified the most," acknowledging the Christian basis for the school, "No matter what, because we love each other."
Wells added, "We had the opportunity, but it's tough that it has to end like this."
"They've been program changers," Gray said of his two seniors, with assistant coach Lindy Gray adding, "They've been really humble leaders for our team."
Gross led Northpoint in scoring with 14 points and Wells added 13. Luttrell and Collier led Webb with 10 points each.
Wells said she has committed to play next season at Blue Mountain College and Gross is already signed to play next year at Division I North Florida.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.