(Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber)
Although Smyrna came into the contest with a woeful 1-8 record, the Lady Bulldogs proved to be a more talented team than their victory total would indicate and used a barrage of three-pointers to build a 42-18 lead in the first half before forging a 54-24 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Smyrna then seemed to freeze up when the Tigerettes (4-10) mounted a furious rally in the fourth quarter, but Marshall County simply didn't have enough time to overcome the huge deficit and suffered their 10th loss of the year.
Despite hitting only 1-of-7 shots in the final period, the Lady Bulldogs shot 48 percent from the field overall (20-of-42), highlighted by a 9-of-19 effort from beyond the arc. Smyrna did have trouble breaking the Tigerettes' full court press at times and committed 21 turnovers, including nine in the fourth quarter alone, but offset that by outrebounding Marshall County 31-22.
MCHS was unable to contain the Lady Bulldogs' backcourt duo of point guard Antoinette Jenkins and shooting guard Ashley Kee. Jenkins hit 10-of-16 shots and 4-of-7 three-point attempts to finish with a game high 27 points, while Kee nailed four treys as well and poured in 18 points. Jessica Shelton and Brook Crouch also added five points apiece for Smyrna and Abby Bumbalough had three points.
"I don't know if we underestimated them , but they tied their season high for threes. They typically like to drive the ball," said Junkins
The Tigerettes, conversely, committed only 14 turnovers, but finished with just 15 field goals on 29 percent shooting, which included a 5-of-18 performance from three-point range, despite hitting 7-of-17 shots in the final period.
Jameka Braden led MCHS with 17 points, eight rebounds, and a blocked shot, while Marina Harwell and Alyssa Reynolds tallied 13 and eight points respectively with Reynolds pulling down six rebounds. Whitney Byrd (six points), Morgan Moyers (two points), and Allison Hargrove (one point) rounded out the scoring for Marshall County.
The Tigerettes only trailed 12-10 late in the first quarter, before the Lady Bulldogs rattled off seven straight points to open up a 19-10 lead with :15 left in the stanza.
Braden buried a trey from the left corner in the waning moments of the first period to narrow the gap to 19-13, but Smyrna completely dominated the second quarter and outscored Marshall County23-5 in the stanza to take a 42-18 advantage into the break.
The Tigerettes trimmed the deficit to 44-20 midway through in the third on a Harwell layup and a jumper by Byrd, but the Lady Bulldogs controlled the rest of the period and ended the stanza with a 10-2 spurt to push their lead to 54-24.
MCHS finally righted the ship at the start of the fourth quarter and ripped off 12 straight points, highlighted by treys from Harwell and Braden, to close the gap to 54-36 with 4:51 left.
After Kee scored on an offensive put back to make it 56-36, Marshall County continued to chip away at Smyrna's lead and countered with an 8-1 burst to cut the deficit to 57-44 with 1:22 remaining.
The Tigerettes, though, had too much ground to make up and Shelton hit 1-of-2 free throws with :15 left to give the Lady Bulldogs a 58-44 advantage before Harwell buried a trey on MCHS' final possession for the 58-47 final.