Randy Frazier, Gleason
Coaching experience: Went 36-1 in his 21st year at Gleason and won third Class A state title this season - and first since 1999. Has a 571-104 career record.
Playing experience: Played baseball and football at Greenfield and baseball at Tennessee Martin.
Why I love basketball: The competition, skills and fundamentals can make average athletes great players. Teamwork and discipline are vital.
Most memorable moment from this season: Watching the celebration after winning the state championship and seeing the emotion of my players.
Why this season was special: We learned as a group to enjoy every day as a team and not take any day for granted. Many people never expected this group to succeed, but this group continued to work and improve and turned into a great team. Source: Jackson Sun.
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Lady Bulldogs Win Third Gold Ball
MURFREESBORO - Only one game separated Gleason senior Kayla Hudson from what she had prayed for her entire life: A state championship.
And with the hopes of a team, a school and a town hanging on her shoulders, Hudson delivered Saturday. Destiny met reality as second-ranked Gleason pulled away late to beat Oliver Springs, 46-36, in the Class A girls basketball final at Middle Tennessee State's Murphy Center.
The victory clinched Gleason (36-1) its third state title and first since 1999 - which was the last time the Lady Bulldogs made the state tournament before this season.
"It's all a blur. I can't believe it," Hudson said moments before bursting into tears. "We're the best team in the state. It's just awesome to have a dream come true."
Hudson was a huge reason why that dream was realized. The Union signee poured in a game-high 29 points after hitting four 3-pointers and 13-of-14 free throws. After the game, Hudson was named the Class A state tournament MVP and Class A Miss Basketball.
Oliver Springs (29-8) trailed for the entire first half before briefly taking the lead twice in the third quarter. After Gleason took a 28-24 lead early in the fourth, Oliver Springs pulled within two twice midway through the period.
Gleason - which had no player taller than 5-foot-7 - responded by spreading the floor in an attempt to milk the clock and force Oliver Springs to foul. The move worked as Gleason hit 18-of-20 free throws in the fourth and 23-of-26 in the game to pull away.
Hudson scored 13 points in the fourth after hitting 11-of-12 shots at the line in the quarter.
The loss snapped a 16-game winning streak for Oliver Springs, which advanced to its first state final since 1983.
"We had to chase them around, and that gets in your head," Oliver Springs sophomore Kayla Christopher said. "They knocked down free throws, and that's going to win you games.
"It's really frustrating, but they did a good job of keeping the ball away from us."
Christopher, who scored 53 total points in her previous two games, had a frustrating shooting night and was held to 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. She was the only player to score in double digits against Gleason this week in three state tourney games and was named to the all-tournament team.
All-tournament selection Lauren Copeland added nine, while Jennifer Smith chipped in eight for Oliver Springs, which committed 10 turnovers and shot only 39 percent from the floor.
Gleason didn't fair much better, making only 36 percent of its shots, but had only four turnovers. Senior Candace Green missed seven of her nine shot attempts, but was 6-of-6 at the line for 11 points.
"I thought there was a lid on the basket," said Green, who was named to the all-tournament team along with Gleason freshman Jenna Frazier. "I just knew our defense was going to get us where we needed to be."
As it did all week, Gleason jumped out early Saturday, scoring the game's first five points. Oliver Springs trailed Gleason 16-12 at halftime.
Christopher missed her first three shots before hitting a 3-pointer with 4:15 left in the second quarter. She finished with five points on 1-of-6 shooting in the opening half.
Despite Christopher's struggles, Oliver Springs scored the first five points of the second half and took its first lead of the game at 17-16 on a Copeland layup with 4:02 left in the third quarter.
The lead changed hands five times over the next four minutes before Hudson hit two free throws to put Gleason up 26-24 at the end of the third.
After Hudson hit a layup early in the fourth to make it 28-24, Gleason spread the floor and took more than two minutes off the clock before Oliver Springs got the ball back. Oliver Springs pulled within two at 28-26 on two free throws by Copeland with 3:46 left, but Gleason missed only two of 20 free throws in the final three-plus minutes to wrap up the most successful season in program history.
Oliver Springs, though, fell one game short of glory.
"We just weren't able to get over the hump," said Oliver Springs coach Michelle Christopher. "Their defensive pressure is hard to handle no matter how much you're prepared.
"We have nothing to be ashamed of."
Gleason capped an incredible postseason run, which was personified by efficiency on both ends of the court. The Lady Bulldogs allowed only 86 total points in three state tournament games - one point off the state tourney record set by Giles County in 1981 - and gave up an average of 33 points in 10 postseason games.
On the offensive end, Gleason made 51 percent of its shots in three state tourney games and set a state tourney record for best free-throw shooting percentage after hitting 60-of-65 (92.3 percent) at the line.
Hudson finished as the leading scorer in this year's Class A state tourney with 72 total points and wrapped up her prep career with a 122-13 record.
Gleason beat defending state champion Forrest and returning state runner-up Jackson County to reach Saturday's final.
At the post-game press conference, Gleason coach Randy Frazier sat back and grinned as he watched his daughter Jenna describe the emotions of winning a state title while playing for her father.
"It's a dream come true," Jenna said before breaking down in tears. "It took my breath away. It's just amazing."
And a dream fulfilled for a team, a school and a town. Source: Jackson Sun.
Gleason Defeats Oliver Springs for Title
It's 'a Great Moment' After a Tough Year
MURFREESBORO - A year ago, Jenna Frazier's daddy was sick. The diagnosis was thyroid cancer, and to be honest, the prospects weren't the best.
One surgery in mid-March didn't rid Randy Frazier of the disease. The last hope was a second procedure in April, when doctors removed the entire gland.
Then the Fraziers prayed.
"There were tears and lots of them because we just didn't know," Jenna said, looking back at a time when a 14-year-old kid learned how fickle and uncertain life can be.
"But sitting here tonight, this is so fulfilling. I'm so thankful and blessed to be here at this moment with my dad."
So how special was Saturday night at the Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State?
The Fraziers, father and daughter, hugged and laughed and cried. In the stands, more than a thousand fans dressed in orange chanted and cheered and stomped their feet until the rafters shook.
Gleason (36-1) was a champion again following a drama-filled 46-36 win over Oliver Springs in the girls' Class A state championship game.
"To look back on the last year, to be honest, that's something they make Disney movies about," Randy Frazier said after he led the Lady Bulldogs to the third state title in program history. "There's just so much to reflect on, but what I'm going to always remember is what this group that no one really gave a chance has accomplished."
Holding a slim 26-24 lead after the third quarter, Gleason rode the coattails of Kayla Hudson to the victory.
Named the state tournament MVP and Class A Miss Basketball, Hudson scored 13 points in the fourth quarter. The Union University signee made 11-of-12 free throws in the final eight minutes and finished with a game-high 29 points. Also in double figures was all-tournament selection Candace Green, with 10 points.
But it's the Lady Bulldogs' defense that will be remembered from this state trip.
In three games, Gleason allowed on average just 28 points in wins over Forrest (53-28), Jackson County (50-22) and Oliver Springs. The team missed by one point of matching the all-time record for the fewest points allowed in a state tournament. That mark is 85 points, set by Giles County in 1981.
Not bad for the smallest team in Murfreesboro, with no player on the roster over 5-foot-7.
In the championship final, Gleason held Oliver Springs' Kayla Christopher to 10 points. The sensational 5-foot-9 sophomore guard entered the game as the leading scorer in the tournament, averaging 26.5 points per game.
Gleason previously won championships in 1992 and '99. Hudson became the third Miss Basketball winner from the school and joined Ashley McElhiney (1999) as the only Gleason player to win a state championship, plus be named the state tournament MVP and Miss Basketball in the same year.
And making the night complete was Jenna Frazier, just a freshman, being named to the all-tournament team.
"That makes me so happy," Hudson said as she wiped away tears. "We've all been through a lot this last year, but for Jenna and Coach Frazier, I know this is a very, very special moment. The feelings I have right now for them are impossible to describe."
And think Daddy isn't proud?
"There are a lot of things that go to a personal level for me right now. But this is a great moment for our family," Randy Frazier said. "Yes, sir, a great, great moment." - Bob Heist, 425-9751 Photo: Andrew McMurtrie /The Jackson Sun
Small Team Winning Big
MURFREESBORO - Gleason girls basketball isn't a "Hoosiers" remake, it just looks that way.
But despite a dominant run in the 1990s, during which the Lady Bulldogs won a pair of Class A championships in 1992 and '99 (plus finishing as the runner-up in '93), the facts are these:
Of the teams that qualified for the girls state tournament, only Trinity Christian Academy (131) has a smaller enrollment than Gleason's 207 in the upper-four grades. And with no player on the roster over 5-foot-7, Gleason is the most vertically challenged team in Murfreesboro.
So how were these Mighty Mites supposed to compete with Jackson County on Friday?
Answer: Easily. Gleason opened the game on a 12-0 run and rolled to a convincing 50-22 semifinal victory.
"It's not how big you are, it's how big you play," Gleason coach Randy Frazier said. "We've been playing big all season."
But it was an interesting contrast.
While Gleason has stumbled every season since 1999 in trying to get back to state, Jackson County has been the tournament's dominant program this decade.
Head coach Jim Brown has led the Lady Blue Devils to seven state tournaments since '99, each ending in a title game. In Class AA, Jackson County was the runner-up in '99 and then swept four straight championships from 2000-03. In Class A, Brown took the team to a runner-up finish last year.
This was also a team that made a ridiculous 229 3-pointers this season.
Against Gleason, Jackson County was held to a season-low 22 points. The team made just six field goals in the game - all were 3-pointers.
So much for the experience factor.
"We realized they had great 3-point shooters, so our goal was to not let them breathe when they had the ball," Gleason's Miss Basketball finalist Kayla Hudson said. "We didn't want them to get the looks they were used to, and for the most part, we were very successful.
"When you shut down a team like that, that had been so successful here in recent years, that's pretty good."
Records in trouble
Against Jackson County, Gleason set a state tournament record by making 20-of-20 free throws. The previous best percentage was owned by Bradford, which converted 21-of-22 attempts (95.5 percent) in 2001.
But as far as records go, the Lady Bulldogs are just warming up.
In the tournament, Gleason is shooting 59.2 percent from the floor (29-of-49) and 94.8 percent (37-of-39) from the free-throw line. The record for shooting percentage was set by Booker T. Washington in 1981 (60-of-107, 56 percent), while the free-throw percentage record belongs to Bradford (31-of-34, 91.2 percent) from its appearance in '01.
Gleason can also set the record for fewest points allowed in the tournament. The Lady Bulldogs have allowed just 50 points in its wins over Forrest and Jackson County. The record is 85 by Class AA champion Giles County in 1981.
In the four games since reaching the Region 7-A final, Gleason's defensive numbers are astounding.
Consecutively, the Lady Bulldogs have beaten Lake County (47-31), Scotts Hill (43-19), Forrest (53-28) and Jackson County (50-22). Gleason is allowing just 25 points per game and winning by an average of 23 points.
In the state tournament, Forrest and Jackson County combined to commit more turnovers (29) than field goals made (17).
Hudson eyes title
In her career, Hudson has piled up a 121-13 record as the starting point guard at Gleason. Amazingly, this is her first state tournament appearance and the two-time Miss Basketball finalist is living the moment.
In wins over Forrest and Jackson County, the Union signee has hit 14-of-19 field goals and is averaging 21.5 points per game. The 5-foot-6 guard has also added seven steals, hit 3-of-5 3-pointers and commited just four turnovers.
"My dream has always been to be on the floor in Murfreesboro and playing for a state championship," Hudson said after scoring 17 points in Friday's semifinal win over Jackson County. "Now it's this close. I almost feel like I have to pinch myself.
"But what makes this so special is our team. People look at how small we are, but what I look at is how hard we've worked to get here. I guarantee no team has worked harder and that's so special because this just goes to show that hard work pays off."
Frazier Thankful for Opportunities
MURFREESBORO - Perspective.
That's what this past year has been for the Gleason High School girls basketball team.
Some of it was easy to understand. Some of it wasn't.
"What happened opened our eyes," said Gleason's Miss Basketball finalist Kayla Hudson. "We learned a lot about life in a lot of different aspects in a very short time."
So the Lady Bulldogs' timeline to this date with destiny at 5 p.m. today against Oliver Springs in the Class A championship game goes like this:
Ranked No. 1 in the state and rolling toward the program's first appearance in Murfreesboro since 1999, Gleason is upset on Feb. 25, 2006, by Lake County, 49-46, in the Region 7-A semifinals. A program that dominated the decade before with eight state trips and a pair of titles is denied again.
Two days after the loss, head coach Randy Frazier falls ill. He's diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Two weeks later he undergoes surgery.
In April, the entire thyroid is removed.
Later that summer, Frazier is deemed cancer-free. It's also the time the Lady Bulldogs scrapped trying to out-score teams and beat the dickens out of them on defense.
Both have stuck.
Frazier - now in his 21st season - is back on the bench at 570 career wins and counting. And despite having no player on the roster over 5-foot-7, and four freshmen among the team's first seven in the rotation, he's led the Lady Bulldogs to their best record in program history at 35-1.
Gleason's commitment to defense has the team back in championship contention. In eight quarters at the state tournament, the Lady Bulldogs have allowed double-digit points in a quarter only once; the most points an individual player has scored is eight.
One is obviously more important than the other in the scheme of life. But there have been stranger bedfellows than adversity and triumph.
"There's a lot of things that happened, and a lot of them and what they meant to me, and how they affected me, are hard to put in words," said Jenna Frazier, Randy's daughter and a freshman starter this season. "My dream was to play for my dad, and then all of a sudden that wasn't very important. We had a lot of tears together, but when my dad was OK, something happened to us as a team.
"We learned a valuable lesson about never taking anything for granted. And when you go through something like that, changing the way you play a basketball game doesn't seem all that important."
The new-look Lady Bulldogs debuted on Nov. 17 with a 52-37 home win over Perry County. There have only been eight other teams score more points against Gleason this season.
Entering today's title game, Gleason has given up just 32 points per game in the playoffs. Following Friday's 50-22 semifinal demolition of returning runner-up Jackson County, at the state tournament, the Lady Bulldogs are winning on average by more points (26.5) than they're allowing (25.0).
They're small. They're pesky. They're the talk of the tournament. And they're thankful.
"When you see someone you care so much about go through something like Coach Frazier did, you appreciate what every day means," Hudson said. "And I can tell you that we don't take anything for granted - not one day, not one practice, not one running drill during conditioning.
"Obviously there's a lot at stake (today). And there's a lot of reasons I want to win, but the most important is for Coach Frazier. We learned that there are no guarantees in life - and I'm not making one - but no one deserves this more than him. I've never wanted something more for someone in my life."
Bob Heist is sports editor of The Jackson Sun. Reach him at 425-9751 or .
MURFREESBORO - Forrest, the defending Class A state champion, learned a painful lesson in offensive futility Wednesday.
Welcome to Basketball 101 taught by state-ranked Gleason and coach Randy Frazier.
Fueled by its full-court pressure defense, No. 2 Gleason cruised past No. 9 Forrest, 53-28, in a Class A state quarterfinal game at Middle Tennessee State's Murphy Center.
"I wasn't really surprised we jumped out on them," Gleason senior Kayla Hudson said. "That's what we do."
Hudson, a two-time Miss Basketball finalist who has scored more than 2,100 career points, did what she's done for the past four years. The Union University signee scorched the nets for a game-high 26 points after hitting 8-of-11 shots and 8-of-9 free throws.
In addition to her offensive exploits, Hudson had four steals and keyed Gleason (34-1) defensively. Forrest (26-9) failed to convert early opportunities and never recovered, finishing with 16 turnovers and 39-percent shooting.
Gleason, though, shot 60 percent from the floor and made 17-of-19 free throws to end Forrest's 18-game winning streak.
Now Gleason, making its first state tourney appearance since winning the Class A title in 1999, is preparing for a state semifinal game against returning state runner-up Jackson County at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
"We could have done better," said Forrest junior Ayla Young. "We just made some bad decisions."
And couldn't score enough points.
Gleason held Forrest to single-digit scoring in the first, second and fourth quarters. It was Forrest's lowest scoring output since a 55-27 loss to Franklin Road Academy on Dec. 5, 2003 - a span of 124 games.
It was the seventh time this season Gleason had held an opponent to fewer than 30 points in a game. Gleason - which beat Scotts Hills, 43-19, last week in substate - allows fewer than 34 points per game this season.
"If your team is playing well you let them go (play)," Gleason coach Randy Frazier said. "We knew coming into the game if our press was working we'd win. We wanted to force 20 turnovers, and I think we came close to that.
"Our full-court pressure bothered them."
That was obvious from the start.
After Forrest junior Gaby Bussell hit a layup 16 seconds into the game, Hudson scored to spark a 19-0 run to close the first quarter. Hudson finished with 11 points during that span as Gleason grabbed a 19-2 lead.
Ayla Young scored the first points of the second period to end an eight-minute scoring drought for Forrest, but by then Gleason already had control of the game.
Gleason went into halftime up 28-6. Forrest attempted only eight shots in the first half.
Forrest scored 15 points in the third quarter, but couldn't overcome the early deficit. Gleason led by at least 20 points for the entire second half.
Bussell, last season's Class A state tournament MVP, led Forrest with eight points, while Young had five. No other Forrest player scored more than three points.
Translation: It was a frustrating end to the season for the Lady Rockets.
"We played hard and tried to come back in the second half," said Forrest coach Robby Reasonover, who lost four starters from last season's state championship team. "It was just too much to overcome."
Senior Candace Green scored eight points for Gleason. Junior Riley Auvenshine added seven points and three steals, while freshman Jenna Frazier chipped in six points.
Coach Frazier said he was impressed with Hudson's all-around effort.
"She's been our leader all year long," Frazier said of Hudson, who is 120-13 at Gleason. "She is a player who makes everybody around her better."
-Joshua Parrott, 425-9634
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