Tigerettes hold their own, finish fourth
It has been a tumultuous two weeks for the Marshall County Tigerettes since the sudden resignation of former head coach Boyd West on December 15.
The Tigerettes have responded well since West's departure, finishing a respectable fourth at the 2009 Above the Rim Christmas Invitational Tournament at Hickman County High School.
"Overall, I think the girls did well. They don't have anything to be ashamed of," said MCHS interim head coach Jerrie Henry.
After garnering their first win under Henry on Monday against Dickson County, the Tigerettes ran into the Hickman County Christmas Tournament Grinch Ensworth Lady Tigers on Tuesday, losing 61-38.
Ensworth (9-3) crushed all three of their opponents en-route to the tournament title, outscoring Forrest, MCHS, and Harding Academy 189-132.
The average margin of victory for the Division II AA Nashville private school was 19 points.
After the Ensworth loss on Tuesday, the Tigerettes squared off opposite the Eaglettes from Shelbyville on Wednesday in the third place consolation game.
It was the first meeting between the two longtime rivals since 2002.
The two storied women's basketball programs hold 16 state titles and the rivalry dates back to the mid 20th Century.
"I have had some great battles in the past versus Shelbyville and we were all excited to play the game," said Henry. "We had a short time to prepare for the game, but we went over some things Wednesday to get ready."
Shelbyville scored first, but Marina Harwell's three-pointer at the other end of the floor sent a message to the Eaglettes that the Tigerettes were in it for the long haul.
Shelbyville took a 6-5 lead before the Tigerettes went on a quarter ending 7-2 scoring streak, taking a 12-8 lead after the first eight minutes.
Two free throws by Stephanie Moore at the outset of the second quarter gave MCHS a 14-8 lead before Shelbyville came back, scoring a half dozen points in a row to knot the contest at 14 with 5 minutes to go in the half.
The teams traded field goals, making it 16-16 and then they traded three-pointers by Artavia Bryant and Janie Graves for a tie game at 19 apiece.
The Eaglettes went ahead 20-19 on one of two from the free throw line by Kelsie Smith.
Henry sent in a play for the Tigerettes, going to the post for Moore, who scored and was fouled on the basket.
Moore drained the free throw and the Tigerettes took a 22-20 lead into the halftime break.
Callisha Johnson tied the game for the Eaglettes early in the third period at 22 before Bryant drained another trey, making it 25-22 MCHS.
Smith scored on a rebound and put-back for Shelbyville, but the red-hot Bryant went downtown again, making it 28-24.
An Eaglette miscue led to a DaRhonda O'Neal bucket at the other end.
After misses by both teams, LaRhonda O'Neal pulled up for a jumper in the lane, making it 32-24 Tigerettes.
Shelbyville head coach Lynn Burkey called timeout after the O'Neal bucket with 1:44 left in the period.
The Tigerettes got a tie-up under the Shelbyville basket and DaRhonda O'Neal got free underneath at the other end for a lay-up, giving the Tigerettes their largest lead of the game at 34-24.
The Eaglettes clawed back to 34-29 in the last minute of the quarter on a basket by Robbie Mahaffey and a trey by Katlin Buchanan.
The turnover bug bit the Tigerettes from the outset of the final period and Shelbyville took advantage, scoring ten consecutive points to take a 39-34 lead with 1:16 left in the ballgame.
Harwell broke the MCHS scoring drought with a rebound and follow, but it was too little, too late for Marshall County as they fell 42-36.
Henry said about the game, "I knew they would pressure the ball and I think we responded well until we lost our composure a little at the end. I always want to finish first, but as long as the girls play well and play hard, I will be satisfied."
"The girls are ready to go on," added Henry. "We are all optimistic about the New Year. I will prepare them the best I can and we are looking forward to getting back in the gym and back in the race."
Bryant led the Tigerettes in scoring versus the Eaglettes with 11 points and averaged 16.3 points per game in the tournament.
Harwell had 8 points, DaRhonda O'Neal and Moore had 7 each, and LaRhonda O'Neal finished with 4 points.
The Tigerettes (6-9, 1-3) take on Tullahoma (3-10) in Lewisburg on Jan. 5.