Weakened Tigerettes come up short at Nolensville
As witnessed by county schools being closed yesterday and today due to illness, the Marshall County Tigerettes went in to Tuesday night’s battle for first place at Nolensville in a weakened state with the sickness bug.
The Lewisburg girls hung tough for three quarters with the Lady Knights before withering in the fourth quarter of a 45-39 loss.
“It’s been that way the last four times we played them, we have had our opportunity and it slips away at the end,” MCHS coach David Steely said. “I’m proud of us, we had three or four girls pretty sick tonight that came and played anyway and I’m proud the program is back where girls want to do that and expect to do that.”
The win gives Nolensville (19-6, 8-1) a chance to claim its first-ever regular season district title with a win at Community (17-7, 7-2) tonight and the Tigerettes (20-6, 6-3) can clinch a first-round bye in the upcoming District 12-AA Tournament with a win at Giles County (5-11, 1-7) and a Community loss.
“They are good, Baird is real good,” Steely said. “I think we play her pretty good and she still has 20 points on us just about every time.”
The top two teams earn byes while the bottom four squads have play-in games on Monday at the site of the higher seed with the three-seed hosting six and the five-seed at number four before the remainder of the tournament moves to Forrest.
“I hope we can play them (Nolensville) two more times,” Steely said. “We go Friday night and play Giles County, our biggest rival forever….and we are going to go try and take care of business there and get ready for the tournament.”
The Tigerettes sent an early message that they came ready to battle for the top spot as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind Dionna Crutcher, who scored on a layup to open the game and then buried a 3-pointer.
Two baskets by reigning District 12-AA MVP Grace Baird sandwiched around a Kelsey Keiler bucket for Marshall County made it a 10-4 contest.
Two more Nolensville baskets cut the MCHS lead to two points before a Hannah Davis bucket in the paint at the end of the first quarter gave the Tigerettes a four-point lead.
The Lady Knights scored the first four points of the second period before Karlye Wiser buried back-to-back 3-pointers for the Tigerettes.
Nolensville whittled the Marshall County lead for the remainder of the second quarter as they outscored MCHS 11-5 after Wiser’s long bombs and finally seized the lead on a Baird 3-pointer with less than a minute to go in the first half.
Sydney Tidwell buried a jumper to begin the second half for MCHS and after a Nolensville turnover, Crutcher scored to seesaw the lead back to the Tigerettes at 27-25.
Both teams went cold from the field over the next several minutes until Baird scored to tie the game at 27, but Wiser threw down a 3-pointer to make it a 30-27 contest.
With time winding down in the period, Baird struck again from long distance, tying the game at 30, entering the fourth quarter.
“We just have to play a little bit better,” Steely said. “We turned the ball over in third quarter way too many times when we had an opportunity for us to get out and get a lead and when we didn’t do that, they out executed us down the stretch.”
Baird and Davis exchanged buckets to start the final eight minutes before the Lady Knights came up with the knockout punch via an 11-0 run that lasted until the 1:38 mark of the fourth quarter when Crutcher scored to break the streak, but it was too little too late for the Tigerettes, who are hoping for a Nolensville win tonight and a couple of days of extra rest.
“In an even game, somebody is going to have a two or three minute run and Nolensville did that to us tonight and that was the difference,” Steely said. “We are still in that mentality of getting a little bit before next week and get a little bit better for the tournament.”
Marshall County 12 11 7 9-39
Nolensville 8 17 5 15-45
Marshall County (39): Dionna Crutcher 13, Karlye Wiser 9, Kelsey Keiler 8, Hannah Davis 4, Demariae Ingram 3, Sydney Tidwell 2.
3-Point Goals (6): Wiser 3, Keiler 2, Crutcher.
Free Throws (1-for-2): Ingram 1-for-1, Davis 0-for-1.
Nolensville (45): Grace Baird 19, Sydney Mickulin 7, Parker Leftwich 6, Caymin Ladd 6, Kendal Matas 5, Abbie Keen 2.
3-Point Goals (3): Baird 2, Matas.
Free Throws (3-for-7): Baird 3-for-3, Ladd 0-for-2, Leftwich 0-for-2.
Halftime Score: Marshall County 25, Nolensville 23.