State Champs: Blackman Lady Blaze win 2021 class AAA girls’ state basketball championship


Brenlee Goins

The Lady Blaze celebrated their state championship with a hall parade on Thursday.

The Blackman Lady Blaze are once again the state champions. On Saturday, Blackman defeated Lebanon 64-56 at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center to win the 2021 Class AAA girls basketball championship. It was the Lady Blaze’s third state championship in history, and their first since 2015. 

Blackman was clutch down the stretch. They made lots of tough shots, and they made their free-throws when they had to.  

One of the main keys to victory was Blackman’s seniors stepping up in big spots when they had too. When Vanderbilt signee Iyana Moore left the game due to injury with 6:27 left in the gameVictoria Page stepped up big in her absence as she did the night before in the semifinals against Maryville. Page finished the game with 10 points prior to fouling out.  

Shortly before Page fouled out, Moore returned to the game with 3:01 left and Blackman holding a 51-45 lead. Moore helped in closing out the game, and finished the game with 17 points. Also, senior Kaylee Odom led the scoring for the Lady Blaze with 18 points.  

It was a season full of obstacles and adversity for Blackman. Before the season even began, newly hired head coach John Stigall (who was hired to replace former head coach Wendi Scott in April) had to step down due to personal issues. Blackman knew that Jennifer Grandstaff, who was in retirement at the time after a long stint at Oakland, was the right person for the job of replacing him last minute.  

(Retirement) just didn’t feel right,” said Grandstaff. “I wasn’t right for a whileI was miserable, and a little lost.”  

After Grandstaff was hired, the team faced even more obstacles. Due to being quarantined twice, the Lady Blaze had only played five games in early January. Therefore, Blackman had to play its entire district schedule in about a month. 

It was a crazy year with a lot of ups and downs and a lot of adversity” said Grandstaff. 

The Lady Blaze had to overcome many setbacks to win the state championship. But they never gave up, and that is one of the main reasons why their season ended the way it did.  

“I want to give a shoutout to Dr. Justus and Scott Lawless. When they approached me to take this over, I never dreamed it was going to end this way, so I thank them for the opportunity and the encouragement they gave me to do this again” said Grandstaff.  

Congratulations to Coach Grandstaff, the rest of the coaching staff, and the players on their outstanding achievement.