Lady ‘Cats close campaign with win at Mt. Juliet

Mt. Juliet Christian assistant coach Emily Howell and Amelia Lyons (14) embrace while head coach Jon Willis celebrates with other players at the end of the Lady Saints’ tournament triumph over Friendship Christian.

MT. JULIET — Sydnee Richetto’s knee injury two weeks ago helped send Wilson Central into a tailspin with four losses in a five-game stretch.

The high-scoring junior guard underwent surgery last Wednesday and began six months of rehab Friday, hours before she came to watch her Lady Wildcat teammates attempt to right their ship with a 48-31 win at rival Mt. Juliet to end the regular season.

“We’ve just been down and out since Sydnee got hurt,” Lady Wildcats coach Erica Wilson said. “We really came together this week and put…stuff aside and everybody got in. My freshmen played a ton of minutes. My freshmen played almost the whole second half.

“So that was huge for us, because we may see them next week. We wanted to make sure those girls got the experience.”

Wilson Central spotted Mt. Juliet a Nevaeh Majors free throw before leading the rest of the way as the Lady Wildcats concluded a 15-10 regular season and 8-6 in District 9-AAA.

But the No. 3 seed Lady Wildcats won’t face Mt. Juliet in the district tournament later this week at WCHS. The Lady Bears’ loss dropped them to the No. 7 seed and will force them to face the loser of the coin toss for first place between Lebanon and Beech in the 8 p.m. game Wednesday.

The Lady Wildcats led 14-7 at first-quarter’s end, 26-17 at halftime and 41-22 going into the fourth.

Junior Campbell Strange led the Lady Wildcats with seven of her 13 points in the third quarter. Sydney Dalton drained three 3-pointers as she and Nicole Brill each knocked down nine. Jasmin Angel scored seven while Savannah Kirby hit a first-quarter three; Cloe Smith, Alecia Winters and Lillian Crutchfield two apiece and Kendyle Pickett a free throw.

“Winning at Mt. Juliet’s a big deal,” said Wilson, in her first season at WCHS. “I don’t care if it’s by one point or by 20 points. It’s a huge deal to win here because this is a great program.”

On the flip side, Mt. Juliet endured the loss of just about every key player from last year’s state tournament team with the exception of Majors. The result was a 7-16, 3-11 regular season, the worst for a Lady Bear/Bearette team since at least the early 1970s.

“It’s been a lot of work,” said 21-year coach Chris Fryer, who has overseen 10 state tourney teams at MJHS. “But it’s been awesome as far as the kids go. I’ve really enjoyed working with them. They are a great group of girls. We kind of knew what we were heading into when the season started. Their effort, from beginning to end, has always been the best it can be.”

Freshman Ava Heilman hit three 3-pointers to lead the Lady Bears with 11 points while Majors scored seven, Taylor Pruitt five and Adelyn Kendall, Dymond Howard, Anna Riggs and Halle Jones two each.

Lady Saints stun Friendship with 43-36 tournament triumph

Neither Mt. Juliet Christian or Friendship Christian could score consistently in the Division II District 4-A tournament play-in game Monday night at FCS’ Bay Family Sportsplex.

Then, the Lady Saints stuck a three-pointer to take the lead with 2:32 to play and hit enough free throws to finish the Lady Commanders’ season with a 43-36 victory.

Felicity Keen’s only points of the night, a three from the wing, put MJCA ahead 33-31. That was the Lady Saints’ final field goal. But they stuck 10 of 14 free throws the rest of the way, offsetting a three by Friendship eighth-grader Lilly Maggart which brought the Lady Commanders within 35-34.

Rachel Pippin’s two free throws drew Friendship into a 36-36 tie with 1:46 to play.

But Amelia Lyons hit two from the opposite foul line five seconds later. Shinae Johnson stripped the ball away from Friendship and hit a free throw. Abigail Eastin and Johnson each sank two from the line as Mt. Juliet Christian climbed to 7-19 before losing 54-37 at top-seeded Clarksville Academy on Tuesday to end its season.

“We knew it was going to be a dog fight from the get-go,” Mt. Juliet Christian interim coach Jon Willis said. “It was tied up with two minutes to go and I told the girls the next two minutes will dictate what’s going to happen tonight. We hit our free throws. We boxed them out on the other end and didn’t make silly fouls and did what we needed to do.

“Fortunately, their shots weren’t falling toward the end and we hit our free throws. That’s the big difference.”

“We couldn’t buy a bucket tonight. It was brutal,” Lady Commander coach Jeremy Hawks said after Friendship finished a 6-21 season. “They hit some big free throws. We had to start fouling at the end and they hit their free throws.

“Big ups to them, they played a heck of a game.”

Johnson led the Lady Saints with 12 points. Bethany Lyons sank two three-pointers as she and twin sister Amelia each added 11. Eastin, Keen and Megan Blackwell each threw in three.

Pippin powered in 14 for Friendship, including 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. Brooke Jones buried three triples on her way to 11. Savannah Craighead scored six, Maggart three and Hannah Alexander two.

“I was so proud of the way they played defensively on (Pippin) because she’s hard to guard underneath, and we did a fairly good job all night,” Willis said. “(Craighead) is a whale of a player, too. That guard is hard to keep out of the key.”

“We held their two best players to 12 and 11 points, but we just couldn’t score the basketball,” Hawks said. “We didn’t shoot well from outside. We missed a bunch of key free throws in the fourth quarter which could have put it away for us.

“It was one of those nights were the ball wasn’t falling.”

Pippin scored in the post late in a back-and-forth first quarter to put Friendship up 8-6. Jones buried her first three to open a 12-6 lead early in the second. Her next triple widened the margin to 17-10.

Johnson’s baseline jumper brought MJCA within 17-16 before Pippin’s layup re-extended Friendship’s lead to three by halftime.

The teams traded scores throughout the third quarter which ended with the Lady Commanders leading 26-23.

Amelia Lyons’ three in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter brought MJCA into a 26-26 tie and the teams slugged it out, trading the lead, the rest of the way.

MJCA girls ousted at Clarksville Academy

CLARKSVILLE — Top-seeded Clarksville Academy ended Mt. Juliet Christian’s run with a 54-37 win in the girls’ Division II District 4-A quarterfinals Tuesday.

The Lady Cougars led 20-7 following the first quarter and 36-15 at halftime.

Shinae Howard-Johnson led the Lady Saints with 21 points while Amelia Lyons scored 16.

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