TSSAA state basketball: With Iyana Moore out, Blackman proves it's not a one-player show

Cecil Joyce
Murfreesboro Daily News Journal

Vanderbilt signee Iyana Moore is undoubtedly the leader of the Blackman girls basketball team.

But the Lady Blaze proved the hard way they're not a one-player show Friday in the TSSAA Class AAA state semifinals in a 54-44 win over Maryville at the Murphy Center.

BLAZE ADVANCE:Blackman 54, Maryville 44: Lady Blaze in TSSAA basketball final for first time since 2015

MORE:Kaylee Odom leads Blackman girls in state basketball quarterfinals despite wardrobe change

Moore got in foul trouble and ultimately fouled out of Friday's game, putting the Lady Blaze in unchartered territory.

"We've never been in that situation, not having Iyana out there," said Blackman senior Victoria Page.

It was Page who stepped up and helped lead Blackman to the state championship game for the third time since 2014.

The Dartmouth signee buried four 3-pointers during a three-minute stretch of the third and fourth quarters as Blackman went on a 17-0 run to come from down six late in the third to beat the Lady Rebels.

Blackman (23-3) plays Lebanon at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Class AAA championship. The Devilettes beat Hardin County 53-37 in their semifinal. The Lady Blaze are seeking their third state title in eight years.

"When it's my time, I have to be able to knock down the big shots," said Page, who scored all of her 16 points in the second half after Moore picked up her fourth foul and ultimately fouled out. She averaged less than nine points a game during the regular season but has 31 in two state tourney games.

Moore was the only Blackman player to average double figures this season. Despite not being the point guard, she has probably had the ball in her hands more than any player on the team during the season.

Blackman's Victoria Page (15) celebrates with the team as they advance to the Championship game after beating against Maryville during the TSSAA girls basketball state tournament at Middle Tennessee State University, on Friday, March 12, 2021.

It would be easy to fold up the tent without Moore on the floor in a big game. That wasn't the case the first time the team was put in the situation.

"I can't say enough about the kids that stepped up and kept their composure," Blackman coach Jennifer Grandstaff said.

After the game when Page was asked how she regarded herself as a shooter, her coach quickly cut in, showing the confidence she has in her senior.

"I'll answer...she's a very good shooter," Grandstaff said.

Moore was actually able to log 25 minutes, despite picking up her second foul early in the first quarter, her fourth foul midway through the third and then fouling out with just under 4:00 to play.

If she didn't already, Moore, who finished with a game-high 17 points, now knows the team is in good hands with Page.

"Tori, over there, is a big time leader," Moore said, pointing at Page. "She helps keep my confidence up, helps me keep my head in it."

Reach Cecil Joyce @cjoyce@dnj.com or 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Cecil_Joyce.