2017 Marshall County High School Girls Basketball Preview

Saturday, December 9, 2017
The 2017 Marshall County Tigerettes.
Photo courtesy of Lifetouch

Tigerettes ready to move up

One of the most proud and historically dominant programs in the state made a big time comeback last season as the Tigerettes bounced back from a program low, one-win season in 2015-16 with a 13-15 record and region tournament berth under coach David Steely’s second go-around as head coach.

If not for three season ending injuries to prominent players during the district tournament the Tigerettes might have made a deeper run.

With Sydne Solomon, Kelsey Keiler, and Demariae Ingram on the bench in warmups, the Tigerettes lost a close 37-26 match with Creek Wood, who a healthy Marshall County squad had beaten 49-39 earlier in the year.

This season will bring entirely new challenges for the Tigerettes as a district shakeup brought Murfreesboro Central Magnet, former 1A teams Community and Forrest to the district with Giles County and Nolensville the only teams remaining the last four-year district.

"The new district alignment is going to be fun and interesting for Marshall County girls basketball fans," Steely said. "Forrest versus Marshall County High School will be fiercely competitive and intense. They will be fun games for the players and students. I feel the coaches and teams have a lot of respect for each other and look forward to the rivalry."

Besides the district realignment, the Tigerettes lost just one starter in Zachuriya O'Neal and role-player Sydne Solomon, so expectations are sky high for Marshall County.

"Our expectations increase a little this year," Steely stated. "We want to be a solid team. We try not to focus on the expectations of wins and losses, but more on our practice expectations."

"We want to be better in practice at every fundamental drill as well as each mental and physical battle," Steely added. "If we get better each day our goals and expectations will take care of themselves."

Senior guard Leah Hollingsworth is one of the best pure shooters in the state of Tennessee.
Tribune photo by Mike Inglsbee

The Tigerettes return a wealth of talent in the back court in Leah Hollingsworth and Kelsey Keiler, but one of the two will have to replace the steady ball handling of O'Neal.

"I've probably worked most on my ball handling," Hollingsworth, also a deadly 3-point shooter, said. "I want to be an asset to our point guards in pressure situations so that all of that pressure won't be on them."

Hollingsworth is capable of putting up huge numbers in the scoring column as evidenced with a 21-point, six 3-point effort in a blowout win over Culleoka last year.

"My strength as a leader, to me, is my attitude," Hollingsworth explained. "I try to come into practice excited every day, ready to learn and ready to get better. My hope is that my attitude rubs off on the team so that it becomes a team mindset."

Hollingsworth’s back court partner, Keiler, is also capable of scoring big, both from inside and outside and is back after missing the majority of the district tournament after dropping 18 points on Nolensville in the first round.

Kelsey Keiler looks to have an even better sophomore season after a strong inaugural campaign with the Tigerettes.
Tribune photo by Mike Inglsbee

"A concussion is what put me out of tournaments last year," Keiler, a rising sophomore, said. "We can make it past the regional tournament as long as the whole team thinks we can. Our defense has to be much better than before. This season we've already managed to go through our drills with more intensity than last season, which is great but we have to work on playing this way."

Helping both the inside and the post will be Demariae Ingram, a classic inside-outside player.

Ingram can score with a both a mid-range jumper, a drive in transition, or can post-up on the inside when a mismatch presents itself.

Ingram doesn't score bunches of points but can if needed as evidenced by a season-high 14 points in a near upset of highly-ranked CPA in Nashville.

Ingram dropped 11 points versus Culleoka and nine against Page.

On the inside, opponents will have to deal with the twin towers in senior Alli Hobbs and sophomore Hannah Davis.

Senior Alli Hobbs will be counted on for a strong inside presence in her final year as a Tigerette.
Tribune photo by Mike Inglsbee

"We have been more aggressive on both offense and defense this year," Hobbs, a three-year starter, said. "We know our roles and are more determined this year."

"I think I've improved most on my rebounding and making more moves down low to help the team get more points," Hobbs, who came up big with eight points and eight rebounds in the district tournament versus Nolensville, said.

Davis entered the starting lineup almost immediately as a freshman, progressed into a bigger scoring threat down low later in the season.

Davis turned it on in the district tournament with nine points against Giles County and seven points versus Nolensville.

The Tigerettes feature a large freshman class with six players in Karlye Wiser, Dionna Crutcher, Abbey McGehee, and Sydney Tidwell all getting major minutes for Lewisburg Middle School last season.

We expect leadership from our returning seniors Leah Hollingsworth and Alli Hobbs," Steely said. "Leah averaged around 12 points per game last year. She is one of the best shooters in Middle Tennessee. Just as important her defense and overall game have both improved."

"Demariae Ingram has really grown as a person over the last year," Steely continued. "She is realizing how good she can be and is starting to think basketball. We are looking for her to be a defensive stopper and to break out and have a big year.”

“Kelsey Keiler and Hannah Davis are only sophomores but, gained a ton of experience last year and big things are expected from both this year. This freshmen class is full of guards and several will see varsity action this year."

Steely looks to bring the Tigerettes back to the glory of his first tenure.

From 2006-2009 the Tigerettes held an 87-15 record with a 2A state championship in 2008 and a 2A state runner-up team in 2007. In 2008-09 Marshall County finished the regular season with a 30-0 record before being upset in the region semifinals by one-point to Hume-Fogg.

Seniors

14 Alli Hobbs

3 Leah Hollingsworth

44 Kiara Esparza

Juniors

15 Demariae Ingram

33 Alexia Udell

Sophomores

24 Hannah Davis

21 Kelsey Keiler

Freshmen

13 Claire Woods

4 Karlye Wiser

22 Dionna Crutcher

5 Abby McGehee

55 Tay Davis

12 Sydney Tidwell

2017 Marshall County High School Schedule

Tuesday, Nov. 14at Fairview (HOF) W 42-12
Thursday, Nov. 16 at Fayetteville (HOF) W 48-38
Tuesday, Nov. 21 Siegel W 59-22
Wednesday, Nov. 22Loretto (Forrest Thanksgiving Tournament) W 35-33
Saturday, Nov. 25 Cascade (Forrest Thanksgiving Tournament) W 56-25
Tuesday, Nov. 28 Columbia Academy W 67-53
Friday, Dec. 1 at Stratford W 53-18
Tuesday, Dec. 5 at Lawrence County L 51-49
Friday, Dec. 8 Huntland L 46-43
Saturday, Dec. 9 at Whites Creek
Tuesday, Dec. 12 Columbia
Friday, Dec. 15 MBA
Tuesday, Jan. 9 Community D
Friday, Jan. 12 Murfreesboro Central Magnet D
Tuesday, Jan. 16 at Forrest D
Friday, Jan. 19 at Nolensville D
Tuesday, Jan. 23 at Giles County D
Friday, Jan. 26 at Community D
Monday, Jan. 29 at Murfreesboro Central Magnet D
Friday, Feb. 2 Forrest D
Tuesday, Feb. 6 Nolensville D (Pink Out)
Friday, Feb. 9 Giles County D (Senior Night)
February 12-19District 5AA Tournament
February 23-28Region 6AA Tournament
March 3 State Sectionals
March 7-10State Tournament