By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain led from the opening tip Friday and breezed to a 63-38 Mountain Six Conference women’s basketball victory over Hendersonville at the SM gym.
Aubrie Miller and Natalie Parris scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Lady Mustangs (8-4, 2-0).
Sekaya Canady scored 22 points for the Lady Bearcats.
“It was amazing how focused they were,” Coach Ollin Dunford said of his team’s play coming off a big win at Pisgah. “I had anticipated maybe being a little bit overconfident because it wasn’t Pisgah. They showed a tremendous amount of mental growth by the way they played.”
“I think now that conference has started we’ve gotten more confident as a team and more confident with each other and we’re working harder,” Miller said. “That normally happens every season where we’re kind of slow at the beginning with non-conference then once conference starts we kind of get in it more. In practices we’ve been working harder on our shots, and I think that’s helped us. We’ve been working on rebounding as well.”
Miller scored the game’s first eight points, including a pair of three-pointers,with less than three minutes elapsed.
“She started off red hot, and that set the bar on the offensive end,” Dunford said. “It also raised the level for the girls to play defense.”
Kyra Fowler converted a three-point play with 8.1 seconds left for a 17-7 lead at the quarter break.
The margin reached 31-16 on Allison Macke’s basket with 1:33 to go in the half, and it was 33-19 at intermission.
Hendersonville cut the gap to 37-29 on Callie Swanger’s fast break layup with 4:01 remaining in the third period.
SM ended the quarter on a 10-1 run, including five each by Parris and Lucy McRae, for a 47-31 lead.
Fowler and Miller both scored four in an 11-2 spurt, for the game’s biggest lead, 63-36, with 40.8 seconds left.
Three of Miller’s five field goals were treys. Parris hit two field goals, including a three-pointer, and six of six foul shots.
Fowler finished with nine points, McRae and Melanie Hoyle added eight apiece, Macy Wike netted six, Macke scored four, and Kevonna Tushka and Hannah Huddleston both had two.
Dunford was pleased with his team’s defense against Canady in the second half after she hit four three-pointers in the second quarter.
“She was having her way with us in the first half, but I challenged them at halftime,” he said. “We made it a mission to not let her score another three-pointer, and she didn’t.”
The Lady Mustang JVs are 10-1 after a 42-38 win. Sophia Ammons scored 11 points, while Aiden Nicholson and Xalia Spencer both had 10.
SM led at quarter breaks by scores of 13-7, 23-18 and 28-22.
“This was a very physical game, and we stood up to the challenge,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “There were times where it felt like we were going to pull away, but we have to give a lot of credit to Hendersonville because they were scrappy and clawed back every time and kept the score close. I know we have some aches and bruises after that, but I didn’t hear a single complaint during the game. We just kept fighting. I love that about this team. We just don’t know how to give up, and we won’t back down. I thought Sophia had her best game yet, finishing with 11 points, nine boards and five blocks, and dealt with a tough assignment on defense extremely well. We needed everyone to contribute in this game, and they did.”