Tigerettes March on, roll over top ranked Mt. Juliet
The defending state champion Lewisburg Tigerettes brought their "A" game to the court versus the top ranked and previously unbeaten Mt. Juliet Golden Bears Tuesday night in the championship game of the First Farmers & Merchants and Friends Hickman County Christmas Invitational, winning in impressive fashion 53-42.
The Tigerettes' thirtieth victory in a row resembled the championship game at the state tournament in March as they took an early hold on the game and never let go.
MCHS head coach Boyd West had a plan coming into the game that was not much different than what he has been doing all year. Set the tone early by getting the ball in deep to the post to Lauren March and let her take over.
Combine that with great in- your- face defense, timely three-point shooting, and dead-eye clutch shooting from the free throw line late and what you have is a recipe for perfection.
West said after the game, "We played as a team tonight. We knew what they were going to do and we just went out and played our game. We put the team on Lauren's back and she took care of it. In the last two games versus AAA opponents, Lauren has put up over 20 points in both. Not many people can do that."
March was dominate from the beginning and finished with 21 points to lead all scorers, inching closer to the all time Tigerette scoring record. March needs just 153 points to move past Shavonda Campbell.
Mt. Juliet led 5-4 in the opening minutes of the contest before LaRhonda O'Neal stole the rock, going all the way with a pull up jumper to put the Tigerettes out in front.
Marshall County would never trail in the game after the O'Neal score.
From there, the Tigerettes executed West's plan to perfection, patiently controlling the ball, waiting for the opportunity to feed March and Jakerra Simmons in the post.
The Tigerettes scored 15 of their 24 first half points off of plays into the paint. March had eight at halftime, Simmons scored all five of her points in the half, and Andraya Tears scored her only bucket of the night on a beautiful low post move off of a set play.
The Tigerettes took a 24-21 into the halftime break and when they came out, they stuck to the plan.
March scored the first bucket of the third quarter and after a Lady Bear turnover, NeNe McLean threaded the needle with an inlet pass for another March bucket, extending the lead to seven points at 28-21.
Another Mt. Juliet turnover caused by great interior defense from the Tigerettes gave the ball back to Marshall County.
The Tigerettes gave Mt. Juliet the same look, but this time March stepped back to the three-point line and buried the long distance shot to make it a ten-point ballgame at 31-21.
Mt. Juliet fought back to cut the lead to five at 35-30 before Bryant drained a three-bomb to squelch the comeback.
Two late buckets by Mt. Juliet kept them in the ballgame, trailing by three 38-35 after twenty-four minutes.
Bryant came up big to begin the fourth quarter, rebounding her own missed shot and putting it back into the hoop. On the Tigerettes next possession, Bryant threw down a long back-breaking three to push the lead back to eight at 43-35.
Mt. Juliet would never get any closer than seven points as MCHS executed to the end to remain unblemished for the season at 16-0.
"I want to say something about Artavia Bryant tonight," West said after the game. "I am proud of her, she has been in a little slump lately, but came out of it by hitting big three's for us all weekend. What an honor it is for her to be on the all-tournament team with Lauren. This just shows what kind of character Artavia has."
The Tigerettes do not play again until Jan. 9 at home versus Loretto.
West said, "I told the girls after the game that they should be proud of what they have accomplished so far this season. I am giving everyone five days off to rest and enjoy the New Year. Monday morning we get back in the gym and get ready for Loretto."