The Hume-Fogg Lady Knights (21-5) pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the 2009 playoffs Monday night when they defeated the previously unbeaten Marshall County Tigerettes 49-48 in the semifinals of the Region 5-AA tournament at Spring Hill High School to knock MCHS out of postseason play.
After overcoming a six-point deficit in the third quarter, the Tigerettes (30-1) held a 45-40 lead with 3:10 left in the fourth and appeared they would live to play another day. The Lady Knights, however, continued to battle and used a 9-3 run to claim a 49-48 advantage with :25 before Marshall County turned the ball over on their final two possessions, leaving MCHS fans in a state of stunned silence.
Monday's loss snapped the Tigerettes 44-game win streak and ended the careers of one of the best senior classes to ever compete on the hardwood for Marshall County High School.
"They're a great bunch of young ladies and I was honored to coach them. After some time passes and the hurt goes away, I will probably reflect back and have some fond memories of what this team accomplished. Those five seniors, if they're not the best class to come through MCHS they're certainly one of the best," said Marshall County head coach Boyd West. "This is one of the hardest losses I've ever experienced. When we were down late, I believe the girls were thinking that we've come back before and can do it again, but Hume-Fogg didn't let us. They took it away from us."
Although the Tigerettes forced 26 turnovers by the Lady Knights, Hume-Fogg did a better job than most of handling Marshall County's vaunted full court press and scored several easy layups thanks to back door cuts, run outs, and steals. As a result, the Lady Knights finished with 20 field goals on 48 percent shooting, while out rebounding MCHS 28-21 as well
"We just didn't get to the proper spots in our press. We looked sluggish and were slow cutting them off," said West.
Marshall County, meanwhile, seemed out of synch offensively the entire night, as they shot just 39 percent from the field (18-46) and committed 18 turnovers. The Tigerettes also had issues at the foul line late in the game and hit just 4 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter, while finishing 8-of-15 from the charity stripe overall, compared to a 9-of-13 effort by Hume-Fogg.
Senior center Lauren March tallied 16 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and three blocked shots to lead Marshall County and leaves as the Tigerettes all-time leading scorer with 1,893 points.
Jakerra Simmons and Artavia Bryant each added 10 points as well with Simmons registering six rebounds and six steals. Kanesha McLean and DaRhonda O'Neal both had six points apiece to round out the scoring for MCHS with McLean notching four assists, two steals, and a blocked shot.
Maria Bagwell and Valencia Gooch paced Hume-Fogg with 19 and 17 points respectively and combined for 15 rebounds and 11 steals.
The Lady Knights inched out to an 8-5 lead late in the first quarter before Marshall County went on a 13-4 run with the help of two three-pointers by Bryant and an O'Neal trey to seize an 18-12 advantage early in the second.
Hume-Fogg rallied to tie the game at 20-20, but MCHS responded with a 6-0 burst thanks to four points from March and a McLean layup to pull ahead 26-20 late in the period.
After tallying the final five points of the half to slice the deficit to 26-25 at the break, the Lady Knights opened the third with a 10-3 spurt to grab a 35-29 lead with 2:50 left in the quarter.
The Tigerettes then began to play with a sense of urgency and put together a 16-5 run on the strength of six points from Simmons and five points from March to claim a 45-40 lead midway through the fourth.
Hume-Fogg though weathered the storm and rattled off five straight points to tie the game at 45-45 with 2:18 remaining.
Following a free throw by McLean, reserve center Kara Stockdale scored on a layup to put the Lady Knights up 47-46.
March then knocked down a jumper from the right wing with :37 left to give Marshall County a 48-47 advantage, but Gooch was fouled while driving to the basket and hit two free throws to stake Hume-Fogg to a 49-48 lead.
On MCHS' ensuing possession, Bagwell intercepted a Marshall County pass and raced down court with the ball but missed an open layup attempt.
The Tigerettes then regained possession on a tie up with five seconds remaining following a wild scramble for the loose ball.
After a timeout, McLean frantically weaved through the Lady Knight defense in an effort to get one last shot off, but had the ball tipped away from behind by a Hume-Fogg defender to complete the titanic upset.