By Carey Phillips
Lucy McRae scored a career-high 24 points leading Smoky Mountain to a 65-50 Mountain Six Conference women’s basketball victory Feb. 5 at Hendersonville.
Natalie Parris added 16 points for the Lady Mustangs, and Macy Wike had 13.
Sekaya Canady of the Lady Bearcats led all scorers with 31.
“We need more than one person to score in double figures, and we got that,” Coach Ollin Dunford said. “We had defensive energy and also put some points on the board. Maybe we are on the right track and at the right time. I was proud of their effort.”
“Our team definitely needed this,” McRae said. “We’ve had a rough patch. This was a game where we could pick up the intensity and the tempo like we should have been doing in the past.”
She said getting off to a good start was important.
“We played OK against Brevard the second time and against Pisgah, but we had a hard time up and down throughout the games,” she said. “Coach O has talked about being persistent and pushing through everything to maintain the same intensity level. We knew we had to come out and do that.”
SM never trailed and took a 13-6 lead on Wike’s driving shot with 1:13 to play in the first quarter. It capped a 9-2 run, including five by McRae.
The Lady Mustangs ended the period on top 15-11.
They opened the second quarter on a 12-2 spurt, including five each by McRae and Wike, for a 27-13 advantage with 4:57 on the clock.
The halftime lead was 34-25.
McRae scored four in a 9-2 run for a 45-30 advantage with 2:50 to play in the third period, which ended with SM in front 49-34.
The largest lead was 51-34 on Parris’ basket with 6:53 left in the game.
Canady’s five points sparked a 10-3 spurt cutting the gap to 57-48 at the 1:19 mark.
McRae hit five of six foul shots and a three-pointer down the stretch to seal the win.
Half of McRae’s six field goals were three-pointers to go with nine free throws. Parris made seven field goals and two foul shots. Wike hit six field goals, including a three-pointer.
Allison Macke scored four points, Kevonna Tushka and Addison Buchanan both had three, and Ashton Buchanan and Julianna Welch each made a free throw.
The Lady Mustang JVs jumped to a 16-2 lead after the first quarter and held on to win 34-30. Aiden Nicholson scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Alisha Hall added 10 points.
Hendersonville cut the gap to 18-15 at halftime, and it was 26-22 entering the fourth period.
“I’m glad we held on to get the win,” Coach Jason Melvin said. “We came out strong and started fast, which is what we’ve been wanting to do. But then we completely did a 180 in the second quarter and went absolutely ice cold. We hit one basket early in the second quarter and didn’t score again until almost two minutes left in the third quarter. Fortunately, our defense kept us in the game and we evened out on rebounds against a bigger team.”
He said Nicholson carried the team and noted that Hall also hit some big shots.