Shea Sutton celebrated her 18th birthday by scoring a career-high 23 points Friday in Smoky Mountain’s 62-39 non-conference women’s basketball win at North Henderson.
Eliza Macaulay added 10 points for the Lady Mustangs (1-1), who trailed by two points at halftime but took control by scoring the first 16 points of the second half.
Ashley Patton had 18 points for the Lady Knights.
Coach Ollin Dunford said there weren’t any particular adjustments made at halftime.
“It wasn’t so much correcting what we were running on offense and defense,” he said. “The platform at halftime was believing in themselves and believing in what we are doing.”
He was surprised with the slow start.
“We had a super practice the day before, but we fought a lot of obstacles within ourselves,” he said. “The girls kept working hard and didn’t give up. In the second half we came out and looked like the team we had at practice.”
Sutton said the players talked among themselves at halftime.
“When we were in the locker room before the coaches came in, we really buckled down and talked about the things that we needed to get together out there,” she said. “We knew we were better than the way we were playing so when we went out there we knew what we had to work on to get the win.”
Sutton hit a three-pointer to start the second half putting SM ahead to stay, 23-22. She also went coast to coast to cap the 16-0 run for a 36-22 advantage with 3:57 on the clock.
Macaulay and Natalie Parris both scored four in the spurt.
The margin reached 43-24 when Me-Li Jackson scored on an inbounds play, and it was 43-28 entering the fourth quarter.
Sutton’s basket ended a 9-1 run for a 58-35 lead with 2:12 left in the game.
Sutton scored all 12 of her team’s points in the first period.
North led 15-12 at the quarter break on Abigail Hedgepath’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.
“I was just overwhelmed,” Sutton said of the big first quarter. “I really wanted to win, and I didn’t like the fact that we were behind. It was just more of a heart thing. My heart wanted to win more than anything.”
Patton’s three-pointer gave the Lady Knights an 18-12 lead with 7:19 to go in the first half.
Macaulay’s two free throws with 3.3 seconds left cut the gap to 22-20 at halftime.
“I can’t say enough about Shea,” Dunford said. “She jumped in there focused and stayed that way the entire game. Her performance was super. She kept us in the game.”
He also singled out Macaulay for her overall effort and Melanie Hoyle for her work on the boards.
Hoyle was the top rebounder with nine, and Sutton had five assists.
This was the first win for Dunford, a veteran assistant, as head coach.
“I’ve been with the program 14 years, but I do feel like a rookie,” he said.” “I was like a kid in a toy store with the joy I felt from winning my first game as varsity head coach.”
Sutton hit eight field goals, including a trio of three-pointers, and four free throws. Macaulay made three field goals and was four of four at the line.
Hoyle added eight points, Lucy McRae followed with five, Parris netted four, Aubrie Miller and Kevonna Tushka both scored three, and Jackson, Caroline Cowan and Erin Moore all had two.
The Lady Mustang JVs are 1-1 after a 54-12 win. Kennedy Stewman scored 12 points.
They led at quarter breaks by scores of 11-4, 23-6 and 34-12 and held North scoreless in the fourth period.
“The key word for us coming into the game was intensity,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “We wanted to play intense. We wanted to play hard the whole time. I feel like the girls really responded well to that. They came out being very aggressive. As a team not only did they play good defense but they played very well on offense as far as moving the ball around, scoring and helping each other out.”