In the women's game, the Tigerettes started fast and pounced on the Lady Raiders with some hot outside shooting from Jessica McQueen, great inside play from Lauren March and Jakerra Simmons, and some great post defense on Spring Hill's Jennifer Paul, who was held scoreless the entire first quarter.
The Tigerettes led at the end of the first period 18-8 and it looked like they could bury the Lady Raiders with a strong second period.
The third quarter was a chess match as both teams played extremely well and ran their offenses with patience, played some close-tough defense, and scored from inside and outside. The third period ended with the Tigerettes leading 32-28 and the game was one of those that everyone thought would go to the end.
The Tigerettes steamed ahead in the fourth quarter to a ten point lead mid-way through with some great play on both ends from Kenesha McClean and Lauren March. At 38-28, the Lady Raiders then went on an eight point outburst to make it a two point contest. The Spring Hill women then employed a strategy of fouling the Tigerettes to take them out of their rhythm and after committing three consecutive fouls, they stole the ball with .54 on the clock.
A Marshall County timeout after a missed shot gave them the ball at 28.4, but they could not convert and the Lady Raiders pushed the ball up and found Shirley Walker behind the three point line with 5.2 seconds left and she buried it to give the visitors a 39-38 lead. A desperation shot by MCHS was off the mark at the buzzer and the first of two heartbreaking games was over.
"We can still be District champs," MCHS head Coach David Steely told his team in the locker room after the game. "We have Giles County on Tuesday so let's get motivated, learn from this, and be ready to play," Steely added.
Kenesha McClean led the Tigerettes in scoring with 13 points and Lauren March and Jessica McQueen each had 9. The Tigerettes (10-6, 4-1) are now tied with both Lewis and Giles Counties for first place in the District.
Shaky call at end of game gives Raiders victory
The Tigers also found themselves in a close battle the entire night in their contest after a lackluster performance in a loss to Page on Tuesday. Coach Tigert's squad came out in the first period very sharp and was led by senior Otha Mundy who scored seven points and Blaise Spencer who nailed two long three bombs for six points. Senior Eric Smith and Deshaun Greer controlled the action down low for the Tigers and they led the Raiders 15-10 after the first eight minutes.
The Tigers extended their lead to ten points in the second period behind hot-handed Spencer's eight points in the stanza and Mundy who continued his fine play and great floor leadership. MCHS led at halftime 30-20 and looked like they would salvage the split as the Homecoming festivities took place at the break.
The game became much more physical after the halftime break and both teams scratched and clawed at each other for an advantage. Deshaun Greer asserted himself in the third quarter and he took control midway through to push the Tiger's lead to twelve at 36-24. Spring Hill answered and cut the MCHS lead to two points on a steal by Eric Smith that led to a basket by Cameron McCullough and then another steal by Ryan Nicholson that led to a bucket by Smith at the end of the quarter for a 47-41 lead for the Tigers.
Otha Mundy drained a three bomb to open the fourth quarter scoring for MCHS and the teams went back and forth for some time before the Raiders cut the lead to two and then tied the game at 56 with three minutes to play.
Spring Hill took their first lead of the night with two and half minutes left at 58-56, a Mundy free throw cut it one, Spring Hill went back up by three and Greer than hit the front end of a one and one to cut it back to a single point. Spring Hill then hit a jumper with just under a minute to play to move up to a three point lead 60-57 before Greer was fouled again and hit one to pull MCHS to within two points. A missed shot by the Raiders and a rebound by Greer sent the MCHS offense up the floor and McCullough nailed a three to give the Tigers a one point margin at 61-60.
The play of the game took place on Spring Hill's next possession when Montae Brown drove into a Tiger defender and the ref whistled a block on MCHS with only 5.6 seconds left. Brown converted the questionable three point play and MCHS scrambled down the floor, only to barely miss the shot and put-back that would have won the game. The MCHS faithful were upset at the call and the Tigers lost 63-61 for the second time Friday night by the slimmest of margins.
MCHS head Coach Jason Tigert was upset with the ending, but stressed, "My team was very competitive, I saw some very good things, and we played very hard. A lot of that contact can go both ways," he added. The Tigers are now 4-8 on the season and 2-3 in the District, three games behind first place.