Tigerettes open up with first round D12AA win
The Tigerettes (13-12) were in the unique position of opening the District 12AA Tournament on Thursday night against a team, Nolensville (10-17), that they had played just two days prior to the close the season.
Despite only beating the Knights by just two points on Tuesday night, a resurgent Tigerettes’ squad flexed its defensive muscle by holding Nolensville to a season-low point total in a 49-27 win on Thursday.
"On Tuesday night, being that we had beaten them (55-42) the first time we played them, we felt like it was just gonna be an easy win so we didn't really come out and play like we were supposed to," senior point guard Zachuriya O'Neal, who added four points, four assists, and five rebounds, said. "After going through practice and walk-through, I kind of felt like everybody knew what they were supposed to do and we came out and executed the game plan."
Coming off a one-win season in 2015-16, MCHS coach David Steely has led the Tigerettes back to respectability, winning the most games since the 2009-10 season (17 wins) and after Thursday it was back to the region tournament for the first time since 2011-12.
"We played a little better than we played on Tuesday, but we had a game plan tonight and the girls executed the game plan," Steely said. "We came out really aggressive. We did a really good job defensively against their two main scorers."
"Leah (Hollingsworth) had one of them and Zachuriya was guarding the other one," Steely continued. "They kind of shut them down and that really played into our ability to take the game over."
The Tigerettes vaunted defense has held Giles County, CPA, Mt. Pleasant, and Nolensville to each school's low point total of the season at the time of the contest.
Marshall County is now 10-2 when holding its opponent to under 40 points in a game.
Freshman Kelsey Keiler turned in a career high 18 points to go along with eight rebounds and two assists and Leah Hollingsworth added 11 points on three straight 3-pointers to open the third quarter.
Freshman forward Hannah Davis dominated the middle with seven points and 15 rebounds while Alli Hobbs chipped in eight points and four rebounds.
"We had a couple of people step up tonight," Steely said. "Two days before it had been all Leah and Zachuriya, they had to carry the load completely. The two freshman contributed big.”
“Kelsey had 18 points and Hannah had seven points and 15 rebounds. We also got eight points from Alli Hobbs, so we had a much more well-rounded attack tonight and that made it harder for them to defend us."
The Knights were led by Parker Leftwich with 10 points and Grace Baird with eight points.
The Tigerette freshman led the charge from at the outset with Keiler scoring seven points to open the game for a 7-4 lead before Davis scored two straight layups and Hobbs added a bucket for a 13-4 advantage after one quarter.
Leftwich started the second quarter with a jumper to trim the lead to 14-6, but Hobbs completed a three-point play and Keiler nailed her third 3-pointer of the night to push the lead to 20-6 before O'Neal knocked down a pull-up jumper on the next possession and the Tigerettes headed into the half with a comfortable 22-8 lead.
The onslaught continued into the second half as Hollingsworth knocked down three straight long-range bombs in quick succession and the 14-point halftime lead ballooned to 26 points just under two minutes into the third period.
With the game all but decided midway through the third quarter the rest of the contest resembled a glorified scrimmage with the benches playing the majority of the final period.
Nolensville 4 4 10 9-27
Marshall County 13 9 16 11-49
Nolensville (29): Parker Leftwich 10, Grace Baird 8, Holli Finnell 4, Isabella Phillips 2, Sydney Mickulin 2, Addie Keen 1
3-point goals (1): Baird
Marshall County (47): Kelsey Keiler 18, Leah Hollingsworth 11, Alli Hobbs 8, Hannah Davis 7, Zachuriya O'Neal 4, Kimberlyn Greer 1
3-point goals (7): Keiler 4, Hollingsworth 3
Halftime score: Marshall County 22, Nolensville 8