Tigerettes handle DeKalb County, advance to final four
Most of the current Tigerettes’ team was not even in kindergarten the last time Marshall County won a state tournament game, but they made a big leap towards a hardcourt higher education on Wednesday as took down DeKalb County 34-31 in the first round of the Class 2A BlueCross Basketball Championships at the Charles M. Murphy Athletic Center on the campus of MTSU in Murfreesboro.
“It feels awesome,” MCHS coach David Steely. “We won like we played all year, we held people down as much as we can to a game in the thirties.”
The Tigerettes advanced to the final four on Friday versus Westview, who come into the semifinal contest riding a 17-game winning streak.
“I’m super proud, we have been counting it down, we just went from eight teams to four and we are one of those four, so we will get ready for Friday,” Steely said.
Westview (30-5) beat South Greene 54-42 in the last Class 2A quarterfinal on Wednesday.
In the upper half of the bracket, Macon County (31-5) takes on Cheatham County (29-3) with the winners of the two semifinal games meeting on Saturday at 11 a.m. for the Class 2A title.
The Tigerettes (27-7) were led by Hannah Davis, who had a double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling down 10 rebounds versus the Lady Tigers from Smithville.
“I wasn’t really expecting this, I was nervous and I felt like I was just going to be kicking it out a lot,” Davis said. “I remember coach Steely telling me if we rebound we can get this game and I kept saying that over and over in my head, so every shot that went up I was crashing the boards.”
MCHS senior Demarie Ingram had eight points and seven rebounds, Dionna Crutcher had a pair of 3-pointers for six points, and dished out two assists and grabbed two rebounds.
Kelsey Keiler had four points and five rebounds and Karlye Wiser had one 3-pointer.
Ingram, Keiler, and Wiser played all 32 minutes for the Tigerettes.
DeKalb County’s Lydia Brown led all scorers in the game with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
Brown went downtown to open the scoring at the 5:39 mark of the opening period before Ingram and Davis scored to put the Tigerettes in front for good.
Ingram and Brown traded buckets before Davis converted a three-point play in the paint and Ingram made it an 11-5 contest when she stole the ball and was fouled racing to the basket.
Ingram made both foul shots, but the Lady Tigers responded with a Brown trey and a Mya Ruch basket with 30 seconds remaining in the first period to make it a one-point game.
Crutcher came alive with a 3-pointer to start the second quarter and Wiser made her only trey of the game moments later as the Tigerettes opened up a seven-point lead.
Marshall County was swarming on defense, holding DeKalb County to one Kadee Ferrell field goal midway the stanza.
The Tigerettes’ final basket of the first half came on a Davis bucket in the low post and Marshall County led 19-12 at halftime.
The girls from Smithville came out of the locker room with a purpose as Emme Colwell buried a 3-pointer on their first possession to begin a 6-0 run that lasted until the 3:51 mark of the third quarter when Keiler finally got on the board via a drive to the dish.
Davis scored four straight in the paint to stave off the Lady Tigers, but Brown brought them back once again with a lay-up, followed by a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Tigerettes worked the clock for the last shot and as time ran down, Ingram drove through the DeKalb County defense to the basket and kissed the ball off the glass to give MCHS a 27-23 lead, entering the fourth quarter.
“This is really big, this is my last year and I was just so happy to make it,” Ingram said. “I really didn’t know I was going to get pressure, because everyone usually plays off of me, so I just had to stay focused on keeping control of the ball and hitting anybody that was open.”
Davis scored her final basket of the game on a low post bucket to kick off the fourth quarter and the action got frantic as the Tigerettes tried to put DeKalb County away, holding them scoreless for nearly half the period.
Marshall County missed a couple of opportunities to squash the Lady Tigers before Brown went downtown with four and half minutes left in the game to make it a three-point contest at 29-26.
The Tigerettes missed at the other end, but Davis snatched the rebound and passed the ball back out to Crutcher, who drained a 3-pointer to stave off the Lady Tigers.
“We had a hard time keeping up with 10 (Brown), she’s really good and she makes big shots, but we had enough to basically, just keep a little lead,” Steely said. “Every time you look up and you’re in the lead, whether it’s one or three, it’s a good feeling.”
“That is kind of what we wanted to focus on going in to the game was just play the next possession and the next second and go on to do something to help your team and we have a group of girls that just know how to do that this year.”
Maddison Parsley jacked up a 3-pointer that was no good, but the Lady Tigers got the ball back on a Marshall County turnover and Brown made her final 3-pointer of her career to cut the MCHS lead back to three points and DeKalb County called timeout with 3:09 remaining in the game.
Keiler answered with a successful drive to the hoop at the other end and Davis grabbed another rebound to give the Tigerettes possession, but they coughed it up and Ferrell scored in the paint with 1:42 left in the game to cut the MCHS lead to 34-31.
Steely called timeout with 1:18 remaining in the game and Brown swiped the ball out of the stoppage.
Crutcher gave up a foul after the Tigerettes circled the wagons on defense to burn some time off the clock and with 31 ticks left in the game, DeKalb missed a 3-pointer and had to foul.
DeKalb received one last reprieve from the Tigerettes, who missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity from the free throw line with 22 seconds left and the Smithville girls called another timeout.
The Lady Tigers scrambled to get a shot off and when they did, Crutcher came up with a huge block and the ball went back out to Colwell, who jacked up a desperation 3-pointer that was rebounded by Ingram and the celebration was under way for Marshall County.
Steely is 4-0 in his last four trips up the ramp at the Murphy Center and when they take the court versus Westview tomorrow, it will be exactly 11 years since the Tigerettes won the Gold Ball number four on March 8, 2008 with a 44-35 win over Milan.
“We made a run to the sub-state last year and I think we were expecting to be in the sub-state the whole year and that kind of made me nervous, because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get there,” Steely said. “When you have had some success the year before it does build into the next year, so we were able to build that into a good season and we won when it mattered.”
“We also have a lot of tradition at the school with our program, at the sub-state game last week my dad (Don Steely) and I were looking around and there were an unbelievable amount of ex-Tigerettes there and I have probably gotten 200 texts, saying the girls can do this, let’s go, so that tradition helps and this is where we belong.”
DeKalb County 10 2 11 8-31
Marshall County 11 8 8 7-34
DeKalb County (31): Lydia Brown 16, Emme Colwell 6, Kadee Ferrell 4, Mya Ruch 3, Maddison Parsley 2.
3-Point Goals (6): Brown 4, Colwell 2.
Free Throws (1-for-2): Brown 1-for-2.
Rebounds (21): Colwell 8, Ruch 3, Brown 2, Ferrell 2, Parsley, Mackenzie France, Team 4.
Assists (6): Colwell 4, Ferrell 4, Ruch.
Marshall County (34): Hannah Davis 13, Demariae Ingram 8, Dionna Crutcher 6, Kelsey Keiler 4, Karley Wiser 3.
3-Point Goals (3): Crutcher 2, Wiser.
Free Throws (3-for-4): Crutcher 2-for-2, Davis 1-for-1, Keiler 0-for-1.
Rebounds (27): Davis 13, Ingram 7, Keiler 5, Crutcher 2, Wiser, Team 2.
Assists (7): Wiser 2, Crutcher 2, Davis 2, Keiler.
Halftime Score: Marshall County 19, DeKalb 12.