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Lady Bears survive scare from Lebanon
Feb 07, 2007 12:00 am
MT. JULIET — The most exciting Lebanon-Mt. Juliet girls game in years saw the Devilettes put a serious scare in the top-ranked Lady Bears before the hosts emerged with their 62nd consecutive home win 59-53 Saturday night at Tommy Martin Gym/The Cave.
Lebanon led early on and, after falling behind by as much as eight points in the second quarter, caught and passed Mt. Juliet several times in the second half before the Lady Bears emerged with their 24th triumph of the season against a single setback.
"Lebanon played with a lot of heart and played with a lot of effort," said Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer, who has never lost to the Devilettes in his nine seasons. "They ought to be proud of their team. They did a good job."
Ebony Marshall's third three-pointer lifted Lebanon to a 47-45 lead early in the fourth quarter.
But center Jordan Nixon drove the lane to bring the Lady Bears into a tie and followed with a breakaway layup to put Mt. Juliet ahead for good. She led the winners with 19 points. Rebecca Sharpe, who supplied 16, scored off a steal and, after K.C. VanAtta connected inside off a spin move, hit a pullup jumper in the lane. Heather Miller's layup on the give-and-go capped a 12-0 run and built a 57-47 lead.
"We had a couple step up," Fryer said. "Becca Sharpe made some plays for us and Jordan Nixon hit a big three and made some plays. In the fourth quarter, our kids played a little harder and gave a little better effort and were able to come out with a win and survive."
For Lebanon, it was the latest in a string of close-but-no-cigar losses as the Devilettes dropped to 9-17.
"It's probably just experience," Fryer said. "They're going to be tough to handle. They're going to win a lot of ballgames. They got very good athletes. They're very big. I think they're a little quicker than us and their size inside is a little bit better than ours.
"It comes down to experience. And once they get experience, all the tools are there to have a great season here in the district tournament they're fixing to go into and into next season. They have a lot to look forward to."
In the meantime, this was Lebanon's third loss of the week to a team ranked in or near the state's top-10 polls. It was a microcosm of the Devilettes' season in which so many of the losses have been come-from-ahead decisions late.
"We were right there," first-year Lebanon coach Darian Brown said. "We just keep knocking on the door and sooner or later you figure we're going to figure out a way to get in that house and knock one of these people off.
"But to come in here, No. 1 team in the state, especially to play the No. 11, the No. 3 and No. 1, all in the same week...I'm so proud of the ladies. You're never satisfied as a coach with a loss. I can't say enough about our heart and our desire to do well."
Lebanon led 2-0, 5-3 and 7-6 before Mt. Juliet closed the first quarter with a 9-2 run to go up 15-9.
A three-pointer by Sharpe and two free throws by VanAtta lifted the Lady Bears to 20-11 and 22-13 leads, respectively, in the second.
But the Devilettes dropped in three straight three-pointers, including two by Ebony Marshall [who threw in three on her way to 13 points], to bring LHS back into the game. It was senior Crystal Howse who had the really hot hand in the period with 11 of her game-high 20 points, including the tying and go-ahead layups in the final minute to lift Lebanon in front 31-29.
Nixon converted a driving layup into a go-ahead three-point play in the final seconds to lift the Lady Bears in front 32-31 by the break.
A putback and two free throws by Nixon opened a five-point Lady Bear lead early in the second half. But the Devilettes wouldn't go away as Icelyn Elie converted Jasmin Brooks' inbounds pass into a go-ahead layup for a 39-38 Lebanon edge.
Brooks' runner in the lane lifted the Devilettes to their largest margin 41-38. But a triple by Mt. Juliet senior Miaca Bowman and two free throws by VanAtta boosted the Lady Bears back in front 45-44 going into the fourth quarter.
"Our big thing coming in was we were going to stop VanAtta, we were going to push all of our defense towards her," Brown said. "But then we wanted to make sure we were on the three-point line because what gets them going is hitting two or three 3s in a row. We weren't going to give them threes. We were going to give them twos. We'll make them penetrate to get the two, but not give up the three.
"The ladies did a good job. You got to pick your poison with them."
Miller scored seven of her nine points in the second quarter while Bowman was on target with a pair of triples on her way to eight. VanAtta was held to seven.
Brooks added eight for Lebanon while Elie scored seven, London Elie four and Kim Ha a free throw.
"We talked about shooting the ball well and we did tonight," Brown said. "It makes all the difference in the world when you shoot well."
Both teams return to final-week district action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Mt. Juliet travels to No. 5 Wilson Central in District 9-AAA while Lebanon goes to Warren County in 7-AAA. Both tipoffs are at 6:30 p.m.
Haley jumper lifts Lady Saints
WHITE HOUSE — Anna Haley's jumper with 30 seconds left Saturday night lifted Mt. Juliet Christian to a 43-41 win over host Community Christian.
Her shot lifted the Lady Saints to a 42-42 lead before Christine Humes hit a free throw to finish off Mt. Juliet Christian's 13th conquest of the season against 12 losses.
The teams were tied 10-10 following the first quarter before Mt. Juliet Christian moved in front 22-18 by halftime and 36-32 through three periods.
Ashley Hudson led the Lady Saints with a season-high 13 points, sinking 6 of 11 shots from the floor. Haley had 12 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Humes added eight points, Paige Hudson five, Kristen Tewmey three and Cali Beard two as Mt. Juliet Christian connected on 17 of 40 shots from the floor.
Taylor Traughber tossed in two three-pointers on her way to 11 points for Community Christian while sister Paige Traughber totaled 10 as the hosts hit 40 percent from two-point range.
Community Christian won the rebounding battle 25-22, but committed 24 turnovers to Mt. Juliet Christian's 10.
The Lady Saints will wrap up their District 8-A schedule at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Friendship Christian's Sportsplex.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.