Tigerettes blast Fairview, secure region berth
Marshall County Tigerette legend and current head coach Jerrie Henry has been there, taking home the state title in 1972, wearing the Lewisburg jersey.
Henry knows what it takes to win at tournament time, having played in big game after game at Dottie Kelso Memorial Gymnasium in Lewisburg.
In the post season, a balanced two-pronged attack is essential and Henry's squad executed the plan perfectly in the opening round of the District 12AA Tournament Wednesday night, having the right stuff in a 56-38 coast-to-coast romp over Fairview.
"It felt very good walking in here tonight," said Henry after the game.
"Just a great feeling," Henry added. "Not only for myself, but I am just so proud of the girls, because this is what the seniors especially have worked so hard for. I am just happy for the team."
The Tigerettes set the tone early from beyond the three-point stripe, draining five first quarter treys that would pull the Fairview defense out just far enough, setting up drives to the hoop and plays in the paint in the second quarter and beyond.
The Lady Yellow Jackets had no answer for the two-pronged attack as the game wore on.
Senior Artavia Bryant went downtown on the Tigerettes' second touch in the ballgame and then it was junior Marina Harwell who got white-hot, nailing four more long bombs in the opening period as the Tigerettes jumped out to a 17-8 lead after the first eight minutes.
Fairview began to peek for the outside shot in quarter number two and Henry and the Tigerettes made them pay with two Bryant drives to the hoop and an inside bucket by Keyerra Allen, widening the gap to 23-8 before the Williamson County school scored again with just over four minutes to go in the half.
After the Fairview score, LaRhonda O'Neal took it down the lane again for a short jumper, making it 25-10.
Fairview scored four straight and had the ball after a Tigerette miss late, but LaRhonda O'Neal swiped the rock and nailed an off balance three-ball at the halftime buzzer, giving Henry's squad a commanding 28-14 lead at the intermission.
Fairview's Allison Nutt, who scored a game high 22 points tried to keep her team in the ballgame with a three-pointer at the outset of the second half, but Harwell said no, no, no with a bomb of her own.
Another Nutt three-pointer would cut the MCHS lead to 33-21.
A Tigerette miss gave the ball back to the Lady Jackets, but Harwell picked their pocket and fed LaRhonda O'Neal for a score, giving momentum back to Marshall County.
The Tigerettes would build on the momentum, stretching the lead to 16 points and then LaRhonda O'Neal did it again, dealing the back breaking blow to Fairview with another buzzer beater to end the third period, pushing Marshall County's lead to 43-25 after three quarters.
The Tigerettes kept the heat on, never letting Fairview back in the game and led by as much as twenty-three points before they settled for the 18-point victory.
With the win, Marshall County secured their sixth consecutive berth in the Region 5AA Tournament next week, but first comes archrival Lewis County in the district semifinal Friday night at Page at 7:00 p.m.
"Getting into the tournament and of course advancing is always a coach's dream," said Henry.
Marshall County (16-12) has beaten the Lady Panthers in three out of the last four district title games.
Henry also said, "I knew we had to have tonight and after tonight we will work on going as far as we can. When we are playing solid basketball and everyone is defending and doing their job, I don't see anyone stopping us. The girls have the confidence and I have the confidence in them that they can do so."
Lewis County (22-5) has not beaten the Tigerettes in the tournament since the 2003-2004 season.
Harwell led the Tigerettes in scoring versus Fairview with 17 points, including 5 treys.
LaRhonda O'Neal finished with 15, Bryant scored 14, Allen contributed 8 points in the paint, and DaRhonda O'Neal pitched in with two points and three steals.