BY TATE RUSSELL
SUN SPORTS WRITER
The calendar turned and so did the play of West Greene's girls basketball team as they started the new year off with a win.
The Lady Buffs controlled things most of the way Friday night and came away with a 73-68 victory over David Crockett at home.
"It feels good to get a win tonight, but there are still things we have to work on," West Greene head coach Josh Bennett said. "We have to take care of the ball and we have to finish the game better. There are always thing to build on after a game and that is what we are taking away from tonight. If we don't improve in those areas then we won't beat the bigger and better teams down the road."
The Lady Buffaloes used a balanced offensive attack that saw four players score in double figures, led by Haley Vradenburgh with 18 points. Kristen Johnson added 17, Rachel Hensley had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Candy Majors added 10 points and six assists.
West Greene (4-13) came out of the gate attacking and quickly built an 8-0 lead while leaving the Lady Pioneers (3-13) grasping for answers.
Hensley scored four during the opening stretch, both on well executed back-door passes from Baylee Jarrell.
Crockett would close the gap and make it a one-point game by the midway point in the period, but the Lady Buffs closed strong, led by Hensley who worked hard in the paint on both ends of the floor. West Greene finished the first period up 23-13.
"Rachel is very talented and I was very pleased with her effort tonight, but I still think she has more in her. I just wish she would unleash it all together," Bennett said.
In the second period, things changed when Majors, the Lady Buffs' point guard, picked up her second foul 42 seconds into the quarter and sat for most of the remaining half.
Offensively and defensively West Greene looked to be lacking the synchronization they played with in the first period and it allowed David Crockett to make a comeback.
"Hands down (Majors) is my best ball handler," Bennett said. "She sees the floor, she runs the floor. She's starting to run the team and as she continues to get better she is someone who has got to be on the floor."
The teams traded three pointers in the beginning of the period with Johnson connecting on two to keep West Greene in front but as the second quarter came to a close the Lady Pioneers made a run.
In a one minute stretch Crockett scored six unanswered, all at the foul line, to tie the game at 33. Then a field goal by each side sent the game into intermission tied 35-35.
West Greene started the second half much like they started the first, on an 8-0 run. They continued to stretch their lead and with 3:51 left in the third quarter they held a 12 point advantage and had only allowed one Lady Pioneer basket.
In the fourth quarter Vradenburgh really began to find her scoring touch and the lead reached 14 points when Majors hit a free throw with 29.4 seconds remaining in the game.
Bennett cleared his bench after that basket and the Lady Pioneers pounced on that opportunity scoring 10 points in the last half minute to make the score appear much closer than the game actually was.
The West Greene boys played with a strong David Crocket for most of the game and took a lead into halftime but the Pioneers were able to pull away in the second half and earn a 78-62 win on Friday.
"We knew were facing a tough team with a good record and in the first half we came out and played very well," West Greene interim head coach Jesse Bible said. "In the second half they came out and turned up the intensity on us a little bit and few turnovers here or there could have been the difference."
In the first half both teams ran the floor looking for quick buckets on offense and played pressing defense for the whole length of the court trying to create turnovers. The style created for a very frantic but exciting game early.
Isaac Barkley led the way early for Crockett (13-6) with eight points in the first quarter, all around the rim. Barkley finished the game with 26 points.
Tanner Earley kept West Greene(2-11) right on their heels as he scored eight points in the quarter, a period in which neither team ever held more than a four point advantage.
David Crockett finished the first period on top 22-20.
In the second quarter West Greene led by Tanner Earley and his brother Tyler were able push in front and even give themselves a little cushion as they went into the half up four. Tyler Earley gave them that cushion when he sank a trio of charity tosses with six seconds on the clock to make it 35-31.
Tanner Earley led West Greene with 17 points in the contest while Tyler Earley had 15. Jacob Peters was also in double figures with 10.
The second half was an entirely different story as a well rested Patrick Goode proved his namesake to be accurate as he took over the game.
Goode sat most of the first half in foul trouble and made very little impact on the early portion of the game.
University of Tennessee assistant coach Jon Harris may have questioned showing up in Mosheim to watch Goode after the first half, but the cat-quick guard showed the recruiter what he was made of after the break .He scored 23 of his 27 points in the second half and almost single handedly shut down the Buffs offense at times with his ball pressure on the defensive end.
Goode knocked down a triple from deep in the right corner just two minutes into the second half to give Crockett a 40-39 lead. They would never again trail in the contest.
"That Goode kid is just an outstanding ball player and he hit some threes to start the second half that really changed the momentum. After that we just had a hard time coming back," Bible said.
That shot started a 12-0 Pioneer's run and they would control the remainder of the contest.