Tigerettes slip versus Giles County
One indisputable fact about this Marshall County Tigerettes' team is its ability to play shutdown defense.
This season Marshall County has held Creekwood and Pearl-Cohn to its third lowest point totals this season, Culleoka to its second-lowest output this season, Cascade to its lowest total this year, and Mount Pleasant and CPA to their lowest point totals in over two and a half seasons.
Defense was once again on full display Tuesday night as the Tigerettes held visiting Giles County to its lowest point total since 2012-13.
But, the Lady Bobcats took a page out of Marshall County's book by holding the blue and white to its lowest point total since scoring just 11 at Giles County last season in a 33-23 district win.
"We were good defensively and we're great on the boards but we've got to find a few more buckets," MCHS coach David Steely said. "We held CPA to 34 here and got beat and tonight Giles scores 33 here and we get beat."
After letting loose for 21 points on seven for 11 3-pointers at Pulaski earlier this season, the Bobcats keyed in on Leah Hollingsworth from the get-go, holding the sharp shooting junior to just three points on one trey and just two shots in the second half.
With Hollingsworth out of the picture, points were at a premium for the Tigerettes (9-9, 3-4) with Zachuriya O'Neal and Kelsey Keiler leading the team with seven points each.
Sydne Solomon added four points and Demarie Ingram led the home team with nine rebounds.
"Going forward we've just kind of got to cut down on the turnovers and run the plays right," Solomon said. "Other than that we've just got to take care of the ball and we'll be fine."
The Bobcats (13-8, 6-1) were led by Erin Freeman with 13 points on three buckets from downtown and eight points from Taylor McNairy.
Freeman and McNairy led the Bobcats out of the gate with four points apiece in the first quarter for all eight of Giles County's points.
Hollingsworth scored her lone basket and Keiler added five in the opening frame for an 8-8 tie heading into the second period.
The low scoring affair continued into the next period as the Tigerettes were held to one field goal from O'Neal and two Solomon free throws, but Marshall County dug deep on the defensive end, holding the Bobcats to six points and the score remained tight at 14-12 heading into the half.
The Bobcats started off the third period on a positive note as Freeman stole an errant pass and drove to the other end uncontested for a 16-12 lead just 20 seconds into the third quarter, but O'Neal answered two minutes later after a rebound and coast-to-coast drive to whittle the deficit to two points at 16-14.
An Alli Hobbs bucket knotted the game at 16 with 4:21 remaining, but the tie was short-lived as Jensen Harper scored a layup 11 seconds later and added another bucket on the next possession for a 20-16 lead.
Giles County posted its biggest lead of the game at 22-16 on a McNairy steal and subsequent layup off a Tigerette inbounds pass and finished on an 8-0 run after another McNairy bucket to end the third period.
"The third quarter I don't want to say we gave them, because you always earn it, but we let them get a lot of easy points," Steely pointed out. "We didn't get matched up three times and just let them get wide open."
The Giles County lead ballooned to 11 points on a Mary Katlyn Bruce triple on the first possession of the fourth period and although a Keiler layup cut the lead to under double-digits at 27-18 with 5:50 remaining, the Lady Bobcats outscored the Tigerettes 6-5 to close the game for the 10-point victory.
The Tigerettes, who currently hold the fourth place position in the district 12AA standings, now have the monumental task of taking on Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville where the Lions have lost just three games over the past four seasons.
On the bright side, two of those three losses have come this season and the Lions are coming off its first district loss since 2013-14 on Tuesday night at Page so the Tigerettes might catch CPA at a time of vulnerability.
"It's a different matchup (than Giles County) because with CPA their big girl is their number one option," Steely said. "I think the intensity of this game was good preparation and just having to play every possession and learning to do that helps us prepare for CPA."
"But I like our chances," Steely added. "I still think we're gonna get that signature win some game soon. We'll find a way to win against one of these big teams."
Giles County 8 6 10 9-33
Marshall County 8 4 4 7-23
Giles County (33): Erin Freeman 13, Taylor McNairy 8, Jensen Harper 6, Mary Katlyn Bruce 3, Bianca Malone 2, Jayla White 1
3-point goals (3): Freeman 2, Bruce
Marshall County (23): Zachuriya O'Neal 7, Kelsey Keiler 7, Sydne Solomon 4, Leah Hollingsworth 3, Alli Hobbs 2
3-point goals (1): Hollingsworth
Halftime score: Giles County 14, Marshall County 12