MT. JULIET — Wilson Central’s girls gave Mt. Juliet all the Lady Bears cared to handle in the first half Tuesday night.
But the Lady Bears’ defense clamped down on Central in the third quarter and Mt. Juliet held off its West Wilson rival 45-35.
Mt. Juliet scored the game’s first six points. But the Lady Wildcats quickly gained their composure and climbed back into the contest.
Addison Byrd’s 19-footer brought Central into a 16-16 tie and Kendall Spray’s driving layup gave the Lady Wildcats their first lead at 20-19.
But Raeyana DeGray hit a three-pointer from the wing to put Mt. Juliet in front 22-20 at halftime and Central never sniffed the lead again.
Mt. Juliet scored the first 10 points of the second half and opened a 40-23 lead on Ronjanae DeGray’s 16-footer from the key early in the fourth quarter.
Central scrapped back. But too many blocked shots by Sally McCabe and not enough minutes left helped the Lady Bears move to 14-1 for the season and 6-0 in District 9-AAA.
“We started guarding them better defensively and started getting out on their shooters in the third quarter and offensively started executing better,” Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. “It was a typical Mt. Juliet-Central game. It was going to be played close to the vest and a lot of intensity involved in the game because the kids know each other so well.”
“We had a little lull of non-scoring in the third quarter,” Lady Wildcat coach Bud Brandon said after Central slipped to 11-5, 3-2. “Against a team like Mt. Juliet, you can’t get behind. But our girls fought back hard. I’m proud of our girls for the last quarter.
“We showed a lot of grit. We got to a better job on blocking out and not giving up second shots. I was wanting a foul one time and the official said, ‘Coach, if they will block out, they’ll get a foul’. I said, ‘Would you go over there and tell them that?’ He started laughing.”
Raeyana DeGray scored 17 points while twin sister Ronjanae tossed in 12. Ashley Roby sank a pair of three-pointers on her way to seven while McCabe scored six and Savannah Sanders a three.
Spray helped fuel Central’s first-half surge with 10 points, including a pair of threes. Hannah Brewer scored six, Byrd and Dominique St. Louis five each, Hailey Averitt a three to break the third-quarter run and Piper Elrod, Nathalie Ventura and Kayla Jackson two each. Byrd, a freshman guard, led the Lady Wildcats with seven rebounds.
“We did overall a good job of taking care of the basketball and not turning it over too much in the first half,” Brandon said. “We did everything we needed to do the first half. And the main thing was keep the game close. But we got behind and when you get behind, you got to reach and grab and do some things you don’t normally do.”
Both teams will return to district action at 6:30 p.m. Friday – Mt. Juliet at home against Lebanon and Central at home against Hendersonville.
Mt. Juliet has rescheduled its game at Hendersonville for 5 p.m. Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Central’s game at Hendersonville has been moved again, from Jan. 26 [a Sunday afternoon] to the following night. Station Camp is tentatively scheduled to go to Central on Jan. 22.
Lady Commanders beat MJCA for first D-II district win
MT. JULIET — Friendship Christian’s girls gained their first East-Middle District 1-A victory by a 47-29 decision at Mt. Juliet Christian on Tuesday night.
The Lady Commanders led 10-5 following the first quarter, 18-16 at halftime and 31-20 through three as they improved to 3-9 for the season.
Ashlyn Pittman’s 18 points paced the Lady Commanders. Abbey Hinton had nine while Taylor Patterson and Hailey Pittman each put in eight and Rebecca Pettross four.
Caroline Scott led the Lady Saints with 10 points while Meredith Orr added eight, Lauren Wankel five, Carly Hummel four and Marcella Gallione two.
Friendship will play host to Goodpasture at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bay Family Sportsplex. Mt. Juliet Christian will make an East Tennessee Swing to King’s Academy at 5 p.m. CST Friday and Knoxville Webb at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Sloan’s 27 leads Lebanon girls
Madison Sloan was too much for Portland to handle with 27 points for Lebanon in a 54-38 victory Tuesday night at Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court.
Sloan also joined Jameka Dowell and Kelsey Yarbrough with nine rebounds apiece as Lebanon moved to 7-10 for the season and 2-4 in District 9-AAA.
Lebanon led 13-8 following the first quarter, 25-17 at halftime and 39-21 through three as Portland fell to 5-11, 0-7.
Yarbrough added 11 points while Kendra Brown dropped in eight, Dowell six and Morgan Bruce two.
Christina Herrera hit four triples in leading the Lady Panthers with 20 points.
Lebanon will travel to Mt. Juliet on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. game.