After losing one of the most talented classes in the program's history to graduation, the Marshall County Tigerettes (0-1) found out Tuesday night that life on the basketball court will be a bit tougher this season, as MCHS opened the 2009-10 campaign with a 52-38 loss at home to the East Literature Lady Eagles.
East Literature (1-0) led the game from start to finish and built a 24-16 halftime advantage before opening up a 44-29 cushion early in the fourth quarter en route to claiming the 14-point victory.
With several inexperienced players being forced into expanded roles this year, Marshall County coach Boyd West was encouraged by his team's effort and believes they will show steady improvement as the season progresses.
"The more they play together, the more confidence they'll have. Hopefully in a few weeks the light will turn on and things will start clicking," said West.
The Tigerettes had trouble finishing around the basket against the Lady Eagles' athletic front line, which blocked six shots, and were forced to settle for perimeter jumpers for much of the evening. As a result, MCHS mustered just 11 field goals on 21 percent shooting, which included a 5-of-25 effort from three-point range, to go along with a 11-of-22 effort at the free throw line.
"Had we made some shots and some free throws, we may have been able to take the lead at some point because we played hard on defense," said West. "We had to rush some of our shots because East Literature was so athletic."
Although the Tigerettes forced 18 Lady Eagle turnovers, East Literature had great success getting the ball into the paint and shot 48 percent from the field (19-40) overall, while hoisting only four three-pointers and converting 14-of-22 attempts from the foul line.
Reserve guard Marina Harwell led Marshall County with 12 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Senior guards Artavia Bryant and LaRhonda O'Neal also tallied eight and seven points respectively, while Alyssa Reynolds added five points, five rebounds, and two steals. Da'Rhonda O'Neal (three points), Keyerra Allen (two points), and Stephanie Moore (one point) rounded out the scoring for the Tigerettes.
Guard Deonyae Whitfield paced East Literature with 16 points, six rebounds, and two steals, while power forward Kelli Cowan tallied 12 points and pulled down a game high 13 rebounds. Laci Foster and Jaquarius Greer also notched eight and six points for the Lady Eagles respectively and Sharonda Brabson had four points.
Marshall County had a lid on their basket early on, as MCHS failed to register a field goal in the first six and a half minutes of the contest, while East Literature jumped out to an 8-1 lead.
Reynolds and Bryant then knocked down consecutive treys to slice the deficit to 8-7 at the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Eagles opened the second with an 8-2 run to open up a 16-9 advantage midway through the period.
After Harwell canned a three-pointer from the right wing and Reynolds knocked down a couple of free throws to narrow the gap to 18-14, East Literature closed the half with a 6-2 spurt to stretch their lead to 24-16 at the break.
MCHS outscored the Lady Eagles 12-9 through the first five and a half minutes of the third quarter with the help of two Harwell treys to whittle the deficit to 33-28. East Literature, however, extinguished the Tigerettes' comeback hopes by putting together an 11-0 run to forge a 44-29 advantage with 5:38 left in the game and Marshall County pulled no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.