Poor free throw shooting sinks Tigerettes
The MCHS Tigerettes season ended Tuesday night, losing to Summit 41-40 in the first round of the District 12-AA Tournament in Lewisburg.
"I am very disappointed," said MCHS head coach David Junkins. "I really felt like we were poised to make a deep push in the tournament. Honestly, this is probably the hardest loss I have had in my career. Until this game I really liked who we had become as a team."
The Tigerettes (11-15) failure at the free throw line was the difference in the ballgame as they went a paltry 5-17 from the charity stripe, yet still had to a chance to win before a last second shot bounced off the rim.
Too many misses
"I believe this was our lowest (free throw) percentage for the season, and no doubt was the easiest stat to point out," said Junkins. "We missed a lot of easy shots as well. We were one for eight from the three-point line and we are usually stronger from the arc than that."
It was the first ever post-season win for Lady Spartans (10-17), who won their first game since the suspension of head coach Angie Muir earlier this month.
"The team took some time in maturing after losing a couple of players early in the season, but I had faith that they would become a good team and they did," said Junkins. "The girls worked very hard to become the team that Coach Henry and I had envisioned."
Lewisburg was in good shape to start the contest as Mecia Reed scored on a backdoor play to get things going for the Tigerettes.
An Allison Hargrove rebound and put-back would eventually give MCHS a 6-3 lead before the Lady Spartans went on a 7-0 run to go ahead 10-6.
Morgan Moyers scored for the Tigerettes and after a Summit missed shot, Kiya Morris hit a runner in the lane, tying the game at 10.
Summit point guard Teandra Crawford and Tigerette post dweller Marissa Lyttle exchanged baskets at the end of the period, making it 12-12.
Caroline Patrick, who led all scorers in the ballgame with 13 points, scored for Summit to begin period number two and Crawford, made it 16-12 after scoring over the top off a pass from Alianah Pettus.
With four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Marshall County fought back to re-knot the game at 18 on a Morris rebound and put-back which marked the beginning of a 7-2 Tigerettes' run to end the first half, giving the Lewisburg girls a 25-20 lead.
The Tigerettes could have led by more, but went 1-8 from the free throw in the first two periods.
Patrick led the Lady Spartans back again, tying the contest at 26 on a jumper at the 5:15 mark of the third quarter.
A Michala Hopkins three-pointer moments later put the Tigerettes back in front, but it was short-lived as Kylie Hicks went downtown at the other end, making it 29-29.
Summit pulls ahead
One Lyttle free throw would be all the Tigerettes would get the rest of the quarter as Crawford scored twice more to give Summit a 33-30 lead, entering the final eight minutes of the season for one of the two squads.
Moyers hit one of two from the free throw line to begin the fourth quarter before Summit scored the next four points to open up a 37-31 lead.
There was no scoring for either squad for several possessions before Lyttle scored in the paint for MCHS with just over two minutes to go.
One touch later, MCHS had an opportunity to cut the Lady Spartans' lead to two points at the 1:55 mark, but missed two free throws.
A Morris steal and score with 1:29 remaining in the game made it a 37-35 ballgame, but Patrick scored at the other end to re-open the four-point margin.
Morris came up huge, scoring on a drive to the hoop and draining the ensuing free throw to cut the Summit lead to a single point with 52.3 seconds left.
Sydney Forrest scored her only basket of the game for Summit, but Hargrove got the two points right back at the other end and Junkins called timeout with 33.5 ticks left.
After the stoppage, the Lady Spartans threw the ball out of bounds and the Tigerettes raced the other way, setting up the last second shot from the corner that bounced off the mark, and the Lady Spartans were moving on, while Marshall County was going home.
"I am proud of our ladies and I really feel like this was the first class of seniors that were mine," said Junkins. "The seniors have come a long way from when I first came here three seasons ago. Marissa Lyttle has matured into a definite post presence. Megan Sanders started as a post player, then learned the wing spot, and finally became the utility player we needed. Morgan Moyers was our quiet leader; she really settled us on the court and became our most consistent player. She showed a lot of heart playing after she broke her nose."
Morris led the Tigerettes in the scoring column with 11 points, while Hargrove and Lyttle had nine points apiece; Reed ended up with five, and Moyers and Hopkins added three points each.