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Tennessee Flight aiming for title repeat at Nike Nationals

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With six minutes to go in her team’s quarterfinal matchup, Alexa Middleton sat on the bench chatting and laughing with teammates.

After posting a game-high 21 points Monday night, the University of Tennessee commitment sat back and enjoyed watching her Tennessee Flight teammates finish off the Cal Swish, 71-55.

The Flight are back on the final day of the Nike Nationals, seeking another title at Riverview Park. The Tennessee team, winners of the Nike Nationals in 2008, 2010 and 2012, will face the Cal Stars at 9:30 a.m. today in the semifinals. Sabrina Ionescu scored 25 points to lead the Stars past the Cal Sparks in their quarterfinal contest.

In the other semifinal game, Cy Fair Shock will face All Ohio at 9:30. The semifinal winners will meet at noon today in the championship.

Middleton is hoping to continue her string of success. Earlier this year, she helped lead Riverdale High School of Murfreesboro, Tenn., to their second consecutive state championship. In May, the 17-year-old combo guard announced her commitment to become a Lady Vol next year.

“It’ll be real exciting being the home state girl,” Middleton said. “The atmosphere there is great.”

Middleton is looking to help her team win two games today and defend their Nike Nationals title. In 2012, the Flight were led by superstars Rebecca Greenwell, who’s heading to Duke this fall, and Kaela Davis (Georgia Tech).

“Last year, they were our dominant players,” Middleton said. “This year, we gelled as a team really well. We know we’re always playing for each other.”

After the Flight won their game against the Swish, coach Tom Insell hurried over to catch the final minutes of the Cal Stars’ victory. While her coach made some mental notes of their next opponent, Middleton said her team knows what it has to do win its semifinal (and possibly final) games.

“Coach has been stressing rebounding. So that’ll be a big part of it,” Middleton said. “We just have to come out ready each game.”


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