TUNNEL HILL — Northwest Whitfield High School's girls basketball team still would have advanced past Ridgeland in the first round of the Region 7-4A tournament on Monday if only the points scored by Lady Bruin senior McKenzie Brueckner had counted.
Brueckner poured in 32 points while playing just three quarters — swishing 10 3-pointers along the way — as Northwest raced past Ridgeland 70-17.
The second-seed Lady Bruins (12-9), playing on their floor, smothered seven-seed Ridgeland (3-21) 23-3 in the first period, and they would have won if they hadn't scored another point. Northwest raced past Ridgeland 70-17, earning a spot in the region tournament semifinals and the state playoffs. The Bruins, which are hosting the tournament, play third-seed Cedartown at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Brueckner kept getting open in the corner, her teammates kept finding her and she kept making them. Five of those long-distance shots came in the third quarter.
Pair that hot shooting with a dominating defense — Northwest has held its last three opponents under 10 points in the first half — and Ridgeland couldn't keep up.
The lead grew to 36-8 at halftime, and the Lady Bruins led 63-13 after Brueckner's barrage in the third quarter. Northwest pulled Brueckner and the starters to begin the fourth quarter.
Autumn Wiley helped Brueckner out in the scoring column with 11, and Emma Allen scored 10.
In the semifinals, Northwest gets a team it swept in the regular season. The Lady Bruins won 65-33 in the last meeting on Jan. 19.
A Northwest win on Thursday earns them a spot in the finals Friday, also in Tunnel Hill, against the winner of the semifinal matchup between top seed Pickens and fourth-seed Heritage. A victory would also clench a home game in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs for the Lady Bruins.