Natalie Parris scored 28 points leading Smoky Mountain to a come-from-behind 55-52 non-conference women’s basketball victory at Roberson on Dec. 11.
Ashleigh Bethea scored 16 points for the Lady Rams, and Zy-nice Lane had 10.
The game was much closer than the first meeting four days earlier when the Lady Mustangs (4-1) led by as many as 25 points.
“I think we felt like this was going to be a gimme,” Coach Ollin Dunford said. “The last time we played them we won handily. For the most part we were very confident we could handle them, but they were a little more hungry about beating us than we were about beating them.
“Then Natalie went to work,” he added. “We needed to see that. When the chips were down that leadership arose in her. She was truly the difference in us winning and losing.”
“I think our mindset may have been to take them too lightly,” Parris said. “They came out and jumped on us, and we weren’t prepared for it. I think we all realized we were going to have to work together as a team.
“I think the adrenalin of not wanting to lose and hurt our record made us really want to push,” she said of the fourth quarter rally.
As for the career high in points, Parris said, “It makes me feel good that I can help my team.”
Lane scored four in a 10-3 run as Roberson went up 38-29 with 1:16 to play in the third quarter.
Parris scored the final five points of the period cutting the gap to 38-34.
SM ran off 13 straight points, including five by Parris, to take a 49-42 lead with 3:04 on the clock. Lucy McRae, who was six of six from the line in the fourth quarter, capped the spurt with two foul shots.
The Lady Rams battled back as Bethea scored the first five points of a 10-3 run. Emily Snedecor’s three-pointer tied it 52-52 at the 1:12 mark.
Melanie Hoyle made two foul shots putting the Lady Mustangs ahead to stay, 54-52, with 57.8 seconds on the clock.
Parris went one of two from the line with 23.1 seconds to go.
There were four lead changes and a tie in the first period. Roberson led 8-5 after Kylee Hutchinson’s basket at the 3:31 mark.
Parris took the ball the length of the court and scored with 20 seconds on the clock giving SM an 11-10 edge at the quarter break.
The second period produced four more lead changes.
Hannah Huddleston’s basket gave SM a 16-12 lead with 6:21 on the clock.
The Lady Rams took a 17-16 edge on Ariana Dickerson’s three-pointer at the 2:55 mark.
Hoyle’s two foul shots put the Lady Mustangs back in front, 18-17, with 2:38 remaining.
Parris’ driving layup with 2:03 to play gave SM a 20-17 halftime lead.
Parris hit 11 field goals, including two three-pointers, and four foul shots.
McRae added nine points, Kevonna Tushka followed with six, Hoyle and Huddleston both scored five, and Julianna Welch had two.
McRae came up with seven steals. She and Parris both had five rebounds.
The Lady Mustang JVs are 3-1 after a 38-18 win. They led at quarter breaks by scores of 11-4, 22-6 and 30-6.
Aiden Nicholson scored eight points and pulled down 16 rebounds. She also had four assists and four steals.
“Our defense was amazing” Coach Jason Melvin said. “We held them to just six points through three quarters, and that’s a testament to how well we are communicating and helping each other out on defense. I thought we gave one of our best efforts on the boards, and we have improved our shooting percentage every game. We played fast and aggressive, and I couldn’t be happier. The best part for me as a coach is that we are improving every day. The whole team is working hard and wanting to get better, which makes it very fun to coach.”