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Mt. Juliet outquicks Lady 'Cats
Jan 17, 2007 12:00 am
MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet's girls used to overpower opponents in the post.
This year, the Lady Bears are using guard-like quickness to frustrate taller opponents.
And No. 4 Wilson Central was left frustrated following No. 3 Mt. Juliet's 76-70 District 9-AAA victory before a packed house Friday night at Tommy Martin Gym.
Facing six-footers Jasmine Hassell, Tierney Jenkins and Sara Williams, Jordan Nixon outquicked them for 16 points as the Lady Bears' 59th straight win in The Cave moved them to 18-1 for the season and 5-0 in the district.
"Jordan's not the biggest girl, but she's a quick jumper, she gets on the boards pretty good for us," Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said after his team shot almost 53 percent from the floor and held Central to just under 47 percent. "That's been a key for us, is being able to be fast and to be quick and our kids have played that way. We don't play a lot of kids so they're in great shape, great condition and they're able to play four quarters tonight without a lot of substitution.
Nixon's total was matched by senior guard Miaca Bowman, traditionally a non-scorer, who said conditioning was also a key.
"I worked on it this summer and got my shot better," Bowman said. "My teammates are really helping me out. Their confidence in me allows me to do what I do out there.
"All this summer, we ran on the track. We won this game over the summer, it wasn't done tonight. It was done this summer on the bleachers, on the track, running miles."
"We know that she's capable of doing that," Fryer said of Bowman. "We've never had our guards be great scorers because we always played team basketball.
"We know our guards can score, we just usually ask them to move the ball and get it in other people's hands. Tonight, we asked our guards to step up and they did."
K.C. VanAtta, Mt. Juliet's senior six-footer, gave the Lady Bears some first-quarter separation with three first-quarter three-pointers, the second of which put them ahead to stay 12-10 midway through the period. She had another triple off a second-quarter steal for a nine-point lead and sank a fifth triple in the fourth quarter to help keep a desperation Central rally at bay as she led all scorers with 24 points.
"K.C. had a good game," Fryer said. "Both of our seniors had good games. Miaca and K.C. both came ready to play."
When Central was able to get the ball to Hassell, she scored 16 points and Sara Williams often kept possessions alive with 10 rebounds and finished with 15 points, a scoring total matched by former Mt. Juliet guard Chelsea Burroughs off the bench. But Jenkins was saddled with foul trouble and was held to nine points as the No. 4 Lady Wildcats slipped to 16-3, 3-2.
"We had a hard time guarding their posts one on one and their perimeter people one on one," Lady Wildcat coach Bud Brandon said. "When you get outhustled, when people out-think you and out-hustle you, it's hard to win. Mt. Juliet's got a great team and we have a good team. But we can't give up 76 points. If you told me before the game we were going to score 70 points, I'd have said we're going to win this game.
"But you got to guard the three. VanAtta, she's quicker this year. She's got a quicker release. She's gotten quicker on her feet. That means she's going to get it off quicker. She got off to a good start.
"I think Mt. Juliet came ready to play more than we did."
Central scored first, but Mt. Juliet answered every early
Wilson Central score until VanAtta sank her threes to open some space. Guard Rebecca Sharpe scored six of her eight first-half points on fastbreak layups following steals. She finished with four steals and four assists as the Lady Wildcats committed 12 turnovers to Mt. Juliet's seven. Her driving layup lifted the home team to a 21-13 lead at the first-quarter break.
Jenkins and Mt. Juliet counterpart Heather Miller were both sent to their respective benches with their third fouls early in the second period. Despite 10 second-period points from Hassell, Central went into halftime trailing 39-32.
Things got no better for Central as Jenkins was whistled for her fourth foul nine seconds into the second half and didn't return to the game until midway through the fourth quarter.
A pullup jumper by Sharpe opened a 51-39 Lady Bear lead before Hassell and Burroughs helped bring Central back. The Lady Wildcats climbed to within three on a pair of Williams free throws before VanAtta sank a 19-footer from the top of the key to send Mt. Juliet to the fourth quarter up 53-48.
Bowman and VanAtta split the scoring in an 8-0 Mt. Juliet run to begin the fourth quarter as the Lady Bears opened a 61-48 lead.
The tenacious Lady Wildcats kept coming back, twice getting to within four points on Williams putbacks, the latter at 72-68.
Miller and Macie Gleaves each finished with four points for Mt. Juliet while Katie Bryan came off the Lady Bear bench for three big late free throws.
Former Lady Bear Jessyca Christopher scored seven points for Central while Lauren Wasson finished with five and Lauren Farmer a three-pointer.
Both teams return to district play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Central will host LaVergne while Gallatin ventures into The Cave to take on Mt. Juliet.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.