Lady Indians down Jags before dropping one to BIC in NEA
Tribune Sports Staff
Marked Tree and McCrory met in the first game of the A-AA division of the NEA Tournament in Jonesboro Friday, Dec. 21. The winner of their preliminary game would go on to play the division's number one seed, BIC. The Lady Indians got that opportunity as they downed the Lady Jaguars 48-40.
The Lady Indians opened the scoring with a two-pointer from Emma Terrell. Marked Tree wouldn't score again for some 3:00 when Hannah Ghant sunk the first of two free throws to put the score at 6-3, Lady Jags.
Marked Tree's scoring was lackluster at best for the remainder of the quarter as McCrory looked to be taking a 13-6 lead into the second period. Deziree Tull cut that lead by two with a buzzer-beater, cutting the lead to five.
"We were pretty flat the first half, especially the first quarter," said coach Luke Lovins. "It was the first time for a number of our players to play in the NEA. We just weren't aggressive enough."
As the coach said, the second quarter was basically a continuation of the first, with neither team gaining a complete upper hand. McCrory did enough, though, to increase their lead by two, 21-14 when the teams to the half-time break.
The Lady Indians looked determined when they came back for the second half and the aggressiveness Lovins said was missing in the opening periods suddenly took up residence on the Marked Tree end of the court.
"We gave them a different defensive look in the scone half," said Lovins. "We did a good job with it."
The defense wasn't the only thing which looked improved in the second half, the offense also came alive.
Lady Indian Amelia Stacy, after missing an opening pair of free throws, exploded for seven straight points in just over a minute to bring Marked Tree into a tie, 21-all at the 5:57 mark.
The rally was short lived, however, as the Lady Jaguars pulled back out to a seven point lead, 30-23, with a rally of their own. Four consecutive missed free throws kept Marked Tree from closing up the score. Tull finally broke the drought , hitting both ends of a one-and-one to set the Lady Indians off on a 7-2 run to tie the game going 32-32 into the final period.
Tull then put the Tribe in the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game when she hit the first of two charity shots. As it would turn out, they would never relinquish the lead again.
Hitting 12 of 16 free throws down the stretch and taking advantage of every McCrory error, the Lady Indians slowly increased their lead until with one minute remaining, they had a comfortable 10 point lead. A minute later, Marked Tree had the 48-40 win.
"We didn't make the mistakes we had in the first half," Lovins said, summing up the win.
Tull and Stacy led the scoring with 21 and 16 points respectively, Tull finishing with 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Ghant had five followed by Mary Davis with four and Patrice Powell with two matching Terrell's opening bucket.
LeAnn Massanelli had 19 and Chrissa Burton 11 to lead McCrory.
BIC 65, Marked Tree 40
It would have been a major upset if the Lady Indians could have somehow upset the number one seeded Lady Mustangs of BIC. No upset was in the offing as BIC used their superior speed, athleticism and playoff experience to take a routine 65-40 victory Saturday afternoon, Dec. 22.
"We played well in the first quarter," said Lovins. "But they started doing what they do and started pressing us and just eating away at us from the second quarter on."
The Lady Mustangs had taken a 37-16 lead by the break and coasted to the final 65-40 tally.
One thing the Lovins and his Lady Indians could find solace in was that Marked Tree had improved on their last game with the Lady Mustangs, a 64-26 losing effort nearly three weeks before.
"We'll have one more chance at them," said Lovins of their next game in mid January. "They're a very good basketball team, but you can't tell what might happen next time."
Tull once again led the scoring with 16 while Stacy and Davis followed with nine each. Powell finished with three, Shelby Beck two and Ghant one.
Sammi Fowler led BIC with 25 followed by Jessica Shepard's 20.
"I was proud of the players how came off the bench and did a good job for us," concluded Lovins. May and Shelby had a really good game."
Marked Tree is next scheduled to play Tuesday, Jan. 8 at Turrell.