Tigerettes shock Viqueens, earn region final berth
The last time the Marshall County Tigerettes played in a region tournament final game was in the 2007-2008 season when they won their fourth state championship.
Current Marshall County coach David Steely guided the Tigerettes to that Gold Ball and then retired, but came back last year in hopes of leading the storied program back.
On Monday night at Nolensville the Tigerettes made it, upsetting top-seeded Community 47-46 in the Region 6-AA tournament semifinals to earn a berth in the region title game versus the host Lady Knights (21-8), who outlasted Forrest 40-38 in the other semifinal matchup.
“It’s a huge win for the program,” Steely said. “It’s a good feeling knowing we are getting back to that level where we can win deep into the region and be playing for a region championship which also means playing in sub-state.”
“We talk a lot of trying to play in Murfreesboro, so we are getting closer and we are going to enjoy tonight and get ready for Wednesday night.”
Marshall County (22-7) also earned the right to play in a state sectional berth on Saturday night versus either East Nashville (27-7) or Cheatham County (26-1).
The winner of those games goes on to the state tournament next week at the Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
“I’m proud for our team, it feels so good to get to see them enjoy the success that they have never experienced in basketball to start believing in themselves,” Steely said. “They think they can win now, we get behind and they think it’s OK because we can still come back and win.”
“They have grown the program back to a new level and that is important to us.”
Monday night’s game versus the Viqueens was not decided until the final buzzer and was an all-out defensive war from the outset.
It was a low scoring game with MCHS holding a 6-4 lead after one quarter and Community leading 19-18 at the half.
The Viqueens regained the lead on three free throws to begin the second half before Kelsey Keiler banged home a 3-pointer, putting Lewisburg in front 22-21.
Haley Reed scored for Community, but Hannah Davis matched the bucket at the other end and after a Unionville missed shot, Leah Hollingsworth scored on a fast break to make it a 26-23 contest.
Davis converted at the end of the period in the low post to give the Tigerettes a 28-23 lead entering the fourth quarter that was wild and crazy to the finish.
The Tigerettes stretched their lead to eight points early in the stanza on a Claire Woods 3-pointer before Community sliced that deficit in half moments later at 35-31.
Marshall County held a 38-33 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Community began to get in foul trouble and the Tigerettes made them pay as Alli Hobbs and Demariae Ingram both converted on a one and one situations at the free throw line to give Lewisburg their biggest lead of the game at 42-33.
The district tournament champion Viqueens were not going down without a fight as they chipped their way back into the contest little by little.
Community outscored MCHS 13-3 over the next three minutes and had a chance to take the lead when Kailyn Ferrell stepped to the free throw line for two shots with 24.9 seconds remaining in the game.
Ferrell made the first attempt to tie the game at 46, but missed the second and Steely called timeout with 22.8 seconds left in the game.
After burning nine seconds off the clock, Keiler was fouled and made one of two from the charity stripe to put the Tigerettes back in front.
Community managed to get three shots at the basket, but none fell and the Tigerettes rejoiced with their fans in triumph.
“I thought we had a chance to win by a few more than that, but they made a great comeback,” Steely said. “We made enough free throws, we shot free throws real well down the stretch in the fourth quarter and made enough to stay in the lead.”
“Sometimes they make that shot at the end, but it rolled off on her and we got to keep the win.”
Hollingsworth led the Tigerettes with 18 points, Davis had nine, Woods eight, Keiler six, and Hobbs and Ingram netted three points apiece.
Wednesday night’s region final tips off at 7 p.m. in Nolensville and the Tigerettes hold a 2-1 advantage over the Lady Knights this season with the last win coming on February 15 in the district tournament semifinals.
“We are really excited,” Steely said. “I wish we had two days off, but at least we get one day to rest, one day to practice and get ready and we don’t have to turn around and play tomorrow night.”
“It beats the alternative, we want to still be playing this time of year and after tonight there are only 16 teams still playing in double ‘A’ and we are one of them.”
Marshall County 6 12 10 19-47
Community 4 15 4 23-46
Marshall County (47): Leah Hollingsworth 18, Hannah Davis 9, Claire Woods 8, Kelsey Keiler 6, Alli Hobbs 3, Demariae Ingram 3.
Free Throws (13-for-17): Hobbs 3-for-4, Keiler 3-for-4, Woods 3-for-4, Ingram 2-for-2, Hollingsworth 1-for-2.
3-Point goals (5): Hollingsworth 3, Woods, Keiler.
Community (46): Kailyn Ferrell 14, Kizzy Lane 12, Gracie Simmons 10, Haley Reed 5, Anna Katherine Lemmons 4, Logan Brothers 1.
Free Throws (10-for-14): Gracie Simmons 4-for-6, Ferrell 4-for-5, Brothers 1-for-2, lane 1-for-1.
3-Point goals (2): Lane, Reed.
Halftime Score: Community 19, Marshall County 18.