By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
NETTLETON – Nettleton High girls basketball coach Derrick Sharp was extremely grateful that his team led Corinth by 13 points at halftime on Monday night. Without such a lead, then it very well could have been the visiting Lady Warriors advancing to Thursday’s quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class 3A North Tournament.
Corinth outscored Nettleton 32-22 in the second half, but couldn’t overcome that huge first-half deficit and lost 58-55 on Nettleton’s home floor.
“We were able to pull out the win definitely because of the big lead that we had at the beginning of the game,” Sharp said after his team advanced to face the winner of Monday’s Riverside-Cleveland East Side opening-round game. “We were able to hang on for the win.”
The Lady Tigers (19-8) jumped out to an 8-0 lead on 4 of 4 shooting from the floor and were able to extend their lead to 14, at 22-8, with less than 90 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Nettleton increased its lead to 15 points in the second period before taking a 36-23 advantage into the locker room at the intermission.
Combined, Camry Jones (11 first-half points) and Shauntina Collier (10) almost equaled Corinth’s point total in the first half.
Jones finished with a team-high 16 points while Collier had 14.
Also scoring 14 for Nettleton was La’Vontra Hall.
“Definitely our press was the key,” Sharp said about building such a huge lead, “just getting out and getting hands on balls. Creating a lot of pressure we were able to get in transition, the way we like to play: to play fast.
“That really led to the big lead.”
The Lady Warriors finally figured out how to get around the Lady Tigers’ full-court pressure and outscored the Lady Tigers 14-7 in the third period to pull within six, 43-37, at the start of the fourth quarter.
Kelsey Ford scored 10 of her 12 points in the third quarter for Corinth.
“I think Corinth did a better job of handling the pressure,” Sharp said. “We still got a hand on a couple of balls, but we weren’t able to actually grasp them.
“That led to them getting breakaways and stuff, and that led us to have to play half-court offense, which sometimes is not our strong suit. We’re better when we’re up and down the floor and in transition.”
The Lady Warriors got to within a point (45-44) on a basket by Erin Frazier (game-high 20 points) with 5:14 remaining, but that was the closest they came to either tying or taking the lead.
“We got a fairly young group of girls,” said Corinth coach Patricia Barr, whose team ended its season at 13-16, “and we got one senior. So, when the heat is on, we get a little anxious, and we just didn’t take the best available shot.”
Game summary, Page 2B