By Carey Phillips
One week after losing by 35 points at Brevard, Smoky Mountain was within two points in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Devils pulled away for a 51-38 Mountain Six Conference women’s basketball victory Feb. 4 at the SM gym.
Tristen Berry scored 17 points for Brevard, and Hannah Cabe had 13.
Natalie Parris had 19 points for the Lady Mustangs.
“After that beat down at Brevard, we put a lot of emphasis on defense and energy,” Coach Ollin Dunford said. “We were lacking in that. If we aren’t shooting well, we have to make strides in those areas. We got better and better in each practice, but we didn’t improve in our shooting. We just didn’t shoot it enough. We had Brevard on the ropes The score wasn’t an indicator of how the game went.”
As for Parris scoring half of SM’s points, Dunford said, “I’m running my big dog 32 minutes.”
The Lady Mustangs trailed 40-38 after Lucy McRae made two foul shots with 4:31 to play, but they didn’t score again.
Brevard reeled off the game’s final 11 points, including six by Michelle Lopez.
The Lady Devils led after the first quarter and at halftime thanks to buzzer beaters.
McRae’s three-pointer gave SM an 8-6 edge with 28 seconds on the clock, but Berry nailed a three-pointer as time expired putting Brevard up 9-8 at the quarter break.
SM led 15-13 after Parris’ two foul shots at the 2:20 mark.
Liz Chapman’s basket at the buzzer gave the Lady Devils a 19-17 halftime lead.
Cabe hit a pair of three--pointers 24 seconds apart, one of which she turned into a four-point play, as the margin grew to -26-17 with 6:10 left in the third period.
The Lady Mustangs closed the quarter on a 10-2 run, including seven by Parris, narrowing the gap to 34-33.
Parris hit six field goals, including two three-pointers, and five of six foul shots.
McRae added seven points, Aubrie Miller, Macy Wike and Melanie Hoyle all scored three, Allison Macke had two and Kevonna Tushka made a free throw.
The Lady Mustang JVs won 55-32. Alli Fortner scored 12 points.
SM led at quarter breaks by scores of 16-4, 24-12 and 41-23.
“The girls played amazing,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “This is how every coach wants their team to play every game. Our intensity was great, we communicated well with each other, we took good shots, we took care of the ball, we boxed out and we got stops on defense. The whole team played awesome from start to finish. They did everything I asked of them, and when we made adjustments, they executed it perfectly.”
He said Fortner played her best game of the season. He also singled out Aiden Nicholson for her all-around play.