Loretto's Karly Weathers ends history of heartbreak in TSSAA girls basketball tournament with championship

Joseph Spears
Nashville Tennessean

MURFREESBORO – Heartbreak in the TSSAA girls basketball state tournament has been all Karly Weathers has known since her freshman year.

Weathers' first taste ended with a loss to Gibson County in the 2019 championship game. Then last year, Loretto was a favorite only to have the tournament canceled after the quarterfinals due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. 

TOURNAMENT RESULTS: TSSAA girls high school basketball state tournament pairings, times 2021

BREAKING NEWS: TSSAA refunds, reissues tickets to girls championship game after individual 'unfairly' bought lots of tickets

That heartbreak finally came to an end on Saturday at Murphy Center.

Weathers scored a game-high 18 points to  lead Loretto (21-7) past Summertown 49-41 in the Class A championship game for the Lady Mustangs' first state title since 1958.

"This is beyond special," Weathers said. "This is something we've been working on since we were in elementary school. The first time it would have been sweet, but any time you win it, I can imagine that it has to be sweet every time. I just feel really, really blessed."

It also helped that Weathers was familiar with Loretto's opponent. 

Summertown (29-4) handed the Lady Mustangs three of their losses, including a four-point loss in the Region 6-A championship 10 days earlier. 

Weathers averaged close to 27 points in Loretto's three previous meetings.

After a slow start in the championship game, Weathers scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half.  

Loretto trailed 29-25 with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter and had been stagnant on offense for much of the game.

Loretto forward Shelby Fisher, second from left, celebrates with Karly Weathers (22) after the team's win against Summertown in the  TSSAA Division I Class A girls state basketball championship game on Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Loretto won 49-41.

Weathers embarked on a solo 7-0 run between the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter to put the Lady Mustangs up by three. 

They wouldn't trail again. 

"I think the girls will tell you that we weren't executing like we should have in those first three games against them," Loretto coach Ashley Rutledge said. "We'd watch film of those games and they'd see plays they messed up on and go 'ugh, that was so dumb.' They were just mental errors but we knew coming into today that if we played our ball and executed that we were going to win this game."

It was a special three days for Weathers at Middle Tennessee State.

She averaged 19.3 points in Loretto's three games and  was named the Tournament MVP.

Weathers was also named the Class A Miss Basketball winner after being a finalist in each of the two previous seasons. 

"This is probably the best day of my life," Weathers said. "I don't know any other way to describe it than I just feel very overwhelmed with blessings today. Winning the gold ball has to be the greatest thing by far though.

"These girls, we've preached for so long that we were going to win a state championship. Today we saw it happen and it was awesome."

Reach Joe Spears at jspears2@gannett.com or 731-343-4923. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @joe_spears7.