COOKEVILLE – The Webb School girls basketball team needed a boost after finishing 4-17 last season.
Hamilton Heights transfer Lashae Dwyer provided that and more.
After being snubbed for Miss Basketball, the Miami (Fla). signee went on a tear in the postseason, leading the Lady Feet to their first district and region tournament titles as a do-it-all point guard.
There was one box left to check on Saturday at Tennessee Tech.
“There was a lot of motivation because people were in my ear saying I should have been (Miss Basketball),” Dwyer said. “But to be honest, the only thing we were really worried about was winning this state championship. And we did it.”
Dwyer finished her high school career with a game-high 23 points in a 54-38 victory over Providence Christian to secure the TSSAA Division II-A state title – the first team championship in Webb’s history.
“That’s pretty special,” first-year Webb coach Matt Shewmake said. “Not a lot of people in this century can say they’re the first ever. We made history all year.”
PCA coach Tara James knew her team was in for a challenge in guarding Dwyer, who had already beaten the Lady Lions four times earlier in the season, including for the district and region championships.
“(Dwyer) is a very talented player, and she’s surrounded by some good players as well,” James said. “We knew that we wanted to try to contain her – you can’t stop her – but try to contain her and hold everyone else to a low number.”
PCA accomplished half of that goal.
No other Webb player scored more than eight points, but Dwyer did enough damage on her own. The senior hit a pair of threes, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists to earn tournament MVP.
“I waited four years for this one moment,” Dwyer said. “That kept me pumping. I kept telling the team, ‘Pick our heads up, we got this, no letting up.’”
PCA seniors AC Markham and Mariah Edmonds finished with 14 and 9 points, respectively. Otherwise, the 2019 state champions were unable to find consistency on offense.
“We struggled offensively, and we have this season against their 1-3-1 (defense),” James said. “We had a difficult time trying to penetrate that.
“I thought we were doing a good job defensively, but (Webb) opened up hitting a couple threes in the third. It’s hard to recover against a team like theirs.”
Shewmake is hoping Webb can become an athletics powerhouse alongside its academic reputation. The private boarding school was established in 1870 and produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other high school in the United States during its early days.
Now the Bell Buckle school is proving it can compete on the court too.
“This isn’t IMG or Montverde, this is Webb School,” Shewmake said. “It’s historically a prestigious academic school. We can do both here. We can be good and excel in athletics, and we can excel in the classroom.”
PCA (38): AC Markham 14, Mariah Edmonds 9, Mia Alexander 8, Abby McFarland 5, Alia Callum 2.
Webb (54): Lashae Dwyer 23, Shanice Simpson-Wheatley 8, Lauren Vann 7, Ava Butts 5, Brookelyn Pedigo 5, Sanai Thomas 4, Charlotte Carkuff 2.