The Macon County Tigerettes made their 4th appearance in the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament this past week.
Their opening round game was scheduled against #8 ranked Pearl-Cohn.
The Lady Firebirds were the 10AA regular season and district tournament champs. They lost the Region 5AA championship to district foe East Nashville (also in the state tournament) before defeating Giles County in the sectionals to advance to the big dance.
The Tigerettes came out in a zone defense in an attempt to force the Lady Firebirds to have to make jumpers and off-set their athleticism. Pearl made 4 of 6 three point shots in the 1st quarter and blitzed ahead 7-0 in the opening minutes. Turnover after turnover from this young Tigerette team only allowed them to take five total shots and no free throws in the opening period. The Tigerettes trailed 4-18 after the opening quarter and the Lady Firebirds looked unstoppable.
Macon switched out to a man-to-man defense at the start of the 2nd and managed to get four straight defensive stops to open the quarter. However, they just couldn’t capitalize. More turnovers mounted and the Lady Firebirds pushed their lead to 26-14 at the break. The Tigerettes committed 18 turnovers in the first half and had only 11 shots total.
The Tigerettes forced a turnover to begin the half but proceeded to commit two successive ones of their own. Keeley Carter cut the lead to 21-31 with 4:10 left and then to 23-31 with 2:56 to go in the 3rd. However the Lady Firebirds kept crashing the boards and would not let the Tigerettes progress any further leading 38-27 heading into the final stanza.
Macon kept the deficit at eight points for a bit but at the 7:22 mark the Tigerettes went into a drought. Macon proceeded to go 0 for 7 in the next four minutes while the Lady Firebirds went on an 8-0 run to create a hole Macon just couldn’t dig out of. Pearl-Cohn was able to make just enough free throws down the stretch to maintain their comfortable win. Final score was Pearl-Cohn 59 Macon 41.
Scoring in the game was: Jamie Ashburn 3, Mattie Goolsby 2, Keeley Carter 19, Jenna Russell 6, Kyndal Bullington 2, Luci Allen 6, and McKaylee Mix 3. Morgan Carter, Savannah Colvin, Keeley Clariday, and Landra Stafford all played but did not score. Macon finished the game 14 of 41 from the field, 3 of 13 three pointers, and 10 of 10 from the charity stripe. Pearl was 15 of 41, 6 of 16 from long distance, and hit 23 of 35 free throws. The Tigerettes failed to score a single point in the game off of the 13 Pearl Cohn turnovers.
In a post-game interview Coach Larry White commented “this Pearl team had by far the most length and quickness than anybody we have seen this season.” Speaking about his squad he continued, “Our girls were the ultimate over-achievers this season and I can’t say enough about how proud I am of them.” He also mentioned that he hoped this experience motivated his young team for the future.
Pearl Cohn went on to defeat Gatlinburg-Pittman in the semi-finals and met Upperman in the Class AA finals. Upperman came out on top, winning in two overtime periods to win their first girls team state championship.
The Tigerettes finish the season with a record of 23-11 and the 4th state tournament appearance for that program. They were the regular season runner-up, finished 4th in the District 8AA tournament, and runner-up in Region 4AA. Not many fans expected this level of success for this team but are exceedingly proud of how far they have come and what they accomplished this season.
Most would echo Coach White’s hope that this game lit an ember that hopefully sparks into a return trip to Murphy Center for the Tigerettes and another chance for him to don the royal blue blazer.
Photos by Julie Collins and Barry Kirby