Tigerettes outlast Viqueens in return to prominence

Friday, February 15, 2019
Demariae Ingram (15), who led the Tigerettes in scoring with 16 points, flies in for a fourth quarter bucket for the Tigerettes, who beat Community 51-43 in the District 12-AA Tournament semifinals Thursday night at Forrest.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

After a decade long drought, the Marshall County Tigerettes (22-6) have solidified their return to prominence after coming away with a bruising 51-43 win over Community (18-9) Thursday night in the District 12-AA Tournament semifinals at Forrest.

“I knew that would be that kind of game, you always hope you can win each quarter and extend the lead, but that’s not going to happen against them,” MCHS coach David Steely said. “It was just emotional, tough, and physical and I’m proud of us that we put up 51 tonight, which is good because we had six girls score.”

“When it came winning time, we were able to execute at both ends of the floor when we got some stops and made a play at the other end, so I’m really proud of that and this is just a bigtime win.”

It was the third time this season the Tigerettes beat the Viqueens, but it wasn’t easy as both teams played to their strengths for much of the contest with the Viqueens pounding the paint as Anna Katherine Lemmons (21) and Gracie Simmons (11) combined for 32 out of the 43 points in the game for Community.

The Tigerettes played to their strengths as well with solid guard play, a smothering defense, some key offensive rebounds, a few well-timed long balls, clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, and the ability to close out the game in a late keep-away effort.

“We wanted to apply pressure to the guards and get on the post really well because we thought the post players could do the most and the guards could just shoot,” Dionna Crutcher said. “Defense is what we think can win ballgames, more than offense.”

Marshall County came up with a nicely rounded scoring sheet as Demariae Ingram led the way with 16 points, including a solid 5-for-8 effort from the free throw line.

Crutcher banged home three crucial 3-pointers in the contest and finished with 10 points and several steals on defense.

“The very first three that I shot hit the top of the rim, so I was a little nervous to shoot anymore,” Crutcher said. “Then I was wide open so I just shot it to get my confidence up and I made it, then I was open again, so I just shot it again.”

Kelsey Keiler (21) grabs a rebound and knocks it home in the first quarter.

Kelsey Keiler turned in her usual solid all-around effort with nine points and was probably in need of nice ice bath after banging with the Community bigs inside.

Karlye Wiser had a pair of 3-pointers for six points, Sydney Tidwell also had six points with a crucial three-point play the old-fashioned way to give MCHS a lead at the half, and Hannah Davis muscled home a pair of buckets in the low post and is looking for a spot in the ice bath as well.

The Viqueens led 15-11 after the first quarter as Lemmons and Simmons combined for 11 points in the paint.

Both teams began to pick up the pace in the second period and Community held the same four-point lead at 22-18 with three minutes remaining in the second quarter when the Tigerettes came back with a vengeance as Crutcher led the charge with back-to-back long bombs to seesaw the lead back to MCHS.

Sydney Tidwell (12) drives to hoop for two points and is fouled prior to converting the three-point play the old-fashioned way to give Marshall County a 27-24 halftime lead.

Lemmons came up with a game-tying bucket before Tidwell converted the late three-point play that gave Marshall County a 27-24 lead at the half.

Defense was the name of the game in the third quarter as Community won the period 8-6 to trail by one point 33-32, entering the fourth quarter.

Ingram hit one free throw to start the final period before Simmons scored in the low post and hit one charity shot moments later to push the Viqueens back in front by one point at 35-34 with 5:41 remaining in the contest.

Two possessions later, Crutcher came up with huge 3-pointer from the top of the key and after a Viqueens’ missed shot, Keiler drove to the dish for a bucket to make it 41-35 and nailed the subsequent free throw to finish off the three-point play and give the Tigerettes a three-possession lead at 42-35 and force a Community timeout with 3:54 left in the game.

“I was really excited about that one just because it was a really close game most of the game, so that took away most of the pressure that was on our shoulders,” Crutcher said. “

Two Lemmons’ free throws with just over two minutes to go in the game was matched by Ingram moments later.

Dionna Crutcher (22) steals the rock and heads to the basket in the second half of the Tigerettes’ big semifinal triumph over the Viqueens.

After a missed Community field goal, the Tigerettes began the keep away game that worked to perfection as they burned 45 seconds off the clock before Tidwell scored on a backdoor play to give the Tigerettes their biggest lead of the game at 46-37 and put the game on ice.

“It’s really a lot of pressure (closing out the game) just because you have to take care of the ball really well and if you don’t do that, they can catch up quick,” Crutcher said.

Marshall County did what was necessary to close the game out as they converted 5-of-8 from the free throw line to secure the win.

The Tigerettes take on top-seeded Nolensville in the district title game for the second year in a row on Monday night at Chapel Hill at 7:30 p.m.

The Lady Knights won last year at home 46-38.

“We are super excited, but we want to go farther than just here, our main goal is to get first in district,” Crutcher said. “I think if we have a really good game plan we can beat them.”

Nolensville (21-6) destroyed Forrest (18-11) 52-33 in the other semifinal Thursday night.

The Lady Rockets face the Viqueens in Monday night’s consolation game and both will travel for a first round Region 6-AA game next week, while the Tigerettes and Lady Knights get to host opening round games.

“I’m super excited to get another home game just for our seniors because we weren’t sure we would get another one, just being able to get another home game is really big.” Crutcher said. “

The last district tournament title game the Tigerettes won was on February 23, 2009 when the Tigerettes mauled Lewis County 55-48 in the District 10-AA Tournament to go to 29-0 before losing two games later in a region tournament elimination game to Hume-Fog.

“This guarantees us a home game in the region, but most importantly we have a chance to be district champs and we will have a plan and be ready,” Steely said. “We are getting better each year since I came back and I’m proud of that.”

“Last year we got beat in this game, this year we won this game and this was our twenty-second win and we are getting a little bit better each practice and if we continue to do that, we have a chance.”

Community 15 9 8 11-43

Marshall County 11 16 6 18-51

Community (43): Anna Katherine Lemmons 21, Gracie Simmons 11, Logan Brothers 5, Brianna Beech 3, Jesa More 3.

3-Points Goals (2): Beech, Brothers.

Free Throws (7-for-16): Lemmons 5-for-8, Simmons 1-for-4, More 1-for-2, Beech 0-for-2.

Marshall County (51): Demariae Ingram 16, Dionna Crutcher 10, Kelsey Keiler 9, Karlye Wiser 6, Sydney Tidwell 6, Hannah Davis 4.

3-Point Goals (6): Crutcher 3, Wiser 2, Keiler.

Free Throws (13-for-24): Ingram 8-for-10, Tidwell 2-for-5, Crutcher 1-for-4, Keiler 2-for-3, Davis 0-for-2.

Halftime Score: Marshall County 27, Community 24.