By Mark Darnell
The Macon County High School Tigerette basketball squad was on the march to get ‘Back to the Boro’ to the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament. It would be a record setting fifth straight appearance for the program.
Macon was set to travel to Crossville to face the Cumberland County in the Region 4 semi-finals on Monday March 1st. The Tigerettes looked poised to play this contest and led 16-10 at the end of the first eight minutes. The Lady Jet squad was much taller than the Tigerettes so passing for a good shot was the key to scoring. Coach Larry White also switched his defenses from man-to-man to a loose 1-2-2, and the switch back-and-forth seemed to take the Lady Jets out of their rhythm. Macon led 34-22 at the break.
Macon opened the second half with four straight turnovers on their first four possessions. Compound that with Abby Shoulders picking up a third foul midway through the quarter and fans were concerned. However, Jalynn Gregory made a three pointer, the old fashioned way, to end the third and Macon led 54-35.
In the final period Macon led by as much as 18 with some target three point shooting by Emily Ashburn before they called the dogs off. Coach White was able to empty his bench with about two minutes remaining and the Tigerettes cruise on to a big road win by a final of 62-49. Also, the #1 ranked and seeded Upperman Lady Bees were upset at home by York meaning that the region championship would be decided in Lafayette.
Scoring for the Tigerettes at Cumberland County was: Jalynn Gregory 20, Emily Ashburn 17, Saranda Woodson 10, Taylor Ward 9, and Abby Shoulders 6. Cadence Carter, Myle Crowder, Allie Thompson, and Kaydence Walrond all played but did not score.
The Region 4AA finals would be played at home against the #3 seeded District 8AA York Lady Dragons. These girls were really playing well and would prove tough for the Tigerettes. Macon led by as much as five in the first quarter before York would close the gap to 12-15 at the end of the first period. The Lady Dragons would surge by as much as six points ahead themselves in the second. Macon would again close that gap and the Tigerettes trailed 23-24 at halftime.
Like two prize fighters in a boxing ring, these two squads battled back and forth in the third period in a defensive pitched battle. Macon would carry a 32-29 lead to the final eight minutes. The Tigerettes made their hay at the free throw line, as they went into the bonus early in the quarter. At the 4:30 mark they had an eight point lead, at the 3:30 mark a seven point lead, but at the 2:30 mark it had been whittled to just one point as again and again the Tigerettes turned the ball over. With the game tied and approximately 16 seconds left Macon worked the ball and Gregory hit Woodson on the block for a lay-up and the game winner at 51-49.
Scoring in the game was: Shoulders 17, Gregory 14, Ashburn 8, Ward 6, Woodson 4, and Thompson 2. All five starters, Shoulders, Ashburn, Ward, Woodson, and Gregory were named to the All-Region Team with Gregory being named MVP.
Winning the region means that the Sub-State would be played at Nera White Gymnasium on Saturday Mar 6th against McMinnville Central.
Again the Tigerettes appeared ready to play. After a slow start the Tigerettes started pushing the tempo and scored points on the fast break. After leading by ten midway thru the period McMinn closed the first quarter down 11-24. However midway through the second we started committing turnovers and the Lady Chargers were able to cut their deficit to 25-33 at the half.
Macon was able to surge back to a 12 point lead midway through the third quarter. However the Lady Chargers started making an effort to get the ball in the paint to score. Compound that with the Tigerettes uncharacteristically missing some of their free throws and their lead was cut to 46-41 heading into the final eight minutes. Macon didn’t score its first basket of the quarter for just over 2 minutes however their defense kept McMinn from scoring either. With five minutes left in the game the Tigerettes would get the bonus. With the lead and just under three minutes Coach Larry White spread his offense to run clock. The Tigerettes were fouled and they managed to make their free throws count when they needed to. Final score was Macon 62 McMinn Central 50
Scoring for the Tigerettes was: Gregory 26, Ward 10, Shoulders 10, Woodson 9, Ashburn 5, and Dallas Caldwell 2. Carter, Crowder, Thompson, and Walrond all played but did not score.
The Tigerettes will now make their record setting fifth straight appearance in the ‘Big Show’ in the Glass House in the Class AA TSSAA State Tournament at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro. They are scheduled to play Covington on Thursday March 11th at 10 am.