Loretto gets another shot at first TSSAA girls basketball championship since 1958

Tom Kreager
Nashville Tennessean

MURFREESBORO – Karly Weathers was a freshman the last time Loretto was in this position — playing for its first TSSAA girls basketball state title in 63 years.

The three-time Tennessee Miss Basketball finalist is a seasoned standout these days. She still seeks to complete the Lady Mustangs' mission set in 2019.

Loretto defeated Clay County 63-42 Friday at Middle Tennessee State's Murphy Center in the Class A semifinals to reach its second championship in three years. It comes a year after the TSSAA stopped its girls basketball state tournament after the quarterfinals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lady Mustangs had reached the semifinals.

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Loretto fell to Gibson County in the 2019 state championship.

"The experience for that game will help us for (Saturday)," Loretto coach Ashley Rutledge said.

And now Loretto (21-7) gets another opportunity add a gold ball to its trophy case. But to do the Lady Mustangs must beat Summertown (30-3), their Lawrence County rival. Loretto is 0-3 against the Lady Eagles this season. They meet at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Loretto has played well in the tournament, beating Cloudland and Clay County by 21 apiece.

Weathers said the Lady Mustangs have maintained laser focus this week and two lopsided wins won't make them overconfident.

"(Our coaches) are going to come in with a game plan and we are going to do anything we can to execute it. We struggled with that early on this season. They'd give us a job to do and we'd do it for the first quarter, then maybe midway to the second quarter then it would slip.

"We've got seven losses to prove that."

The Lady Mustangs shot 51.4% in their win over Clay County. Weathers scored 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the win.

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"Karly is going to get hers," Clay County coach Matt Walker said. "It doesn't matter what you are going to do, she is going to get hers. She's getting 20 no matter what you do.

"You have to limit their post player (Kenzie Weathers). I was hoping to hold her to six or eight and she got 18."

Kenzie Weathers, who is not related to Karly Weathers also had nine rebounds and blocked four shots.

"Two years ago we had this opportunity," Karly Weathers said. "Anytime you have the opportunity to play for a state championship, everybody in the state knows it's hard to get.

"Just being back and have a try again moment. We failed to complete the mission two years ago. It's like coach said the other day, it's unfinished business."

Reach Tom Kreager at 615-259-8089 or tkreager@tennessean.com and on Twitter @Kreager.