The Marshall County Tigerettes nearly got burned Thursday night, but managed to pull out their second victory of the season when they defeated the Blackman Lady Blaze 51-49 at home thanks to a pair of free throws by senior center Lauren March with twenty-one seconds left.
Blackman held a 31-24 lead at halftime, but the Tigerettes rallied to take a five-point advantage late in the fourth quarter. After the Lady Blaze fought back to tie the game at 49-49 with just over a minute left in the contest, March put MCHS up by two before Blackman came up empty on their final two possessions.
"It's always big to come back and win. A lot of it is the experience of our seniors. We have a lot of young players out there, but our veterans have been there before and made the plays down the stretch for us," said Tigerette head coach Boyd West.
Although the Tigerettes shot just 34 percent from the floor overall (18-53), which included a 3 of 17 effort from three-point range, Marshall County hit 11 of 25 field goal attempts in the second half by getting the ball into the paint after settling for quick perimeter jumpers in the first two quarters.
Marshall County held a 12-4 edge on the offensive glass as well despite being out rebounded 25-22 overall by the Lady Blaze.
Senior power forward Jakerra Simmons and March carried much of the offensive load for MCHS. Simmons hit six of eight shots in the second half and finished with a team high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and three steals, while March tallied 14 points, four steals, three rebounds, three assists, and one blocked shot.
"The game plan was to get Lauren and Jakerra the ball inside in the second half. Their guards were playing real aggressive on the perimeter and we thought we could get our post players matched up one-on-one," said West.
Artavia Bryant added nine points for the Tigerettes as well, while Kanesha McLean had eight points. LaRhonda O'Neal (three points) and DaRhonda O'Neal (one point) rounded out the scoring for Marshall County. Senior shooting guard Addricka O'Neal, meanwhile, suffered an apparent knee injury in the third quarter and did not return to action after being assisted off the court.
Blackman, conversely, shot 58 percent from the field (19-33) and knocked down 4 of 10 attempts from beyond the arc, but had trouble handling MCHS' full court pressure and committed 23 turnovers.
"We couldn't put the pressure we wanted on them in the first half because of foul trouble, but in the second half we were able to get into our press and I think our quickness and athleticism really bothered them," said West.
Point guard Shelby Campbell paced the Lady Blaze with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Lauren Dorsett and Kortney Cox also scored 10 and nine points for Blackman respectively.
Marshall County held a 12-11 lead late in the opening quarter thanks to seven points from March and a Bryant trey, but the Lady Blaze controlled the rest of the first half and out scored MCHS 20-12 over the final nine minutes of the stanza to take a seven-point advantage into the break.
The Tigerettes quickly erased the deficit in the third period by putting together a 12-4 run on the strength of five points from Simmons and four points from McLean to seize a 36-35 lead.
Cox then scored two straight baskets to put Blackman up 39-36 late in the third, but Marshall County went on an 11-3 spurt with the help of six points from Simmons and four points from McLean to grab a 47-42 advantage with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter.
After the Lady Blaze closed the gap to 47-46 on field goals by Cox and Campbell, March scored on a lay up to stake MCHS to a 49-46 advantage, before Dorsett canned a trey from the left corner to knot the game at 49-49 with 1:20 remaining.
LaRhonda O'Neal then misfired on a three-pointer, but March was fouled after corralling the offensive rebound and calmly sank a pair of foul shots to put the Tigerettes up 51-49.
Blackman forward Tierra Norris had a three-pointer rim out on the Lady Blaze's ensuing possession and McLean grabbed the rebound prior to being fouled. Although McLean missed the front end of a one-and-one, Campbell was well off the mark on a long range desperation heave at the buzzer.