by darren reese
sun sports editor
Tuesday was a night of celebration for the Greeneville girls' basketball team.
Senior forward Madison Shipley was honored for scoring her 1,000th career point and the Lady Devils picked up a big 70-35 win over West Greene in District 2-AA action at Hal Henard Gymnasium.
The win moves Greeneville one step closer toward clinching the No. 2 seed for the upcoming district tournament and an automatic berth in the Region 1-AA tourney. They can lock it up with a win over Claiborne Saturday night.
"When you are building like we are, you have to just take it one game, one step at a time," Greeneville head coach Annette Watts said.
"We beat a good West Greene team tonight. They are hungry. I said earlier in the year that they would be much better by the end of the season, and they certainly are. They had our respect tonight."
Greeneville (14-10, 6-2) turned in its highest offensive output of the season, coming on 22-of-42 shooting. The Lady Devils were 21-of-31 from the free-throw line.
Melissa Scott paced the home team with 18 points, including 12 points in the third quarter. Mindy Neas added 11 points and Shipley 10.
Shipley made her first basket less than one minute into the game. Watts immediately called time out and, along with GHS principal Patrick Fraley, presented Shipley with a commemorative ball recognizing her career accomplishment.
"I'm so sad that I won't get to keep Madison for a few more years," Watts said. "You won't find a kid with more class. She works hard, she is a strong leader. She is just so deserving. I know our team is very proud of her."
Baylee Jarrell scored 13 points to lead West Greene, while Kristen Johnson and Rachel Hensley added six apiece.
The Lady Buffaloes (7-19, 3-6), who had won three of their last four games, came out strong in the first quarter and led 15-12 after eight minutes.
Candy Majors and Rachel Hensley each had four points for the team in the first.
Momentum took a sudden and drastic turn in the second quarter, though, as Greeneville outscored the Lady Buffaloes 17-0 to take a 29-15 cushion into the half.
The Lady Devils held West Greene to an 0-for-5 shooting effort in the period while forcing 10 turnovers.
"I think our defense really took them out of their rhythm tonight," Watts said. "Our defense creates a lot of frustration and it makes things happen for us on the offensive end, as well."
West Greene got its offense going again in the third, behind the seven points from Jarrell, but the Scott-led Lady Devils continued to increase their margin and led 48-30 heading into the fourth.
Watts played all nine of her girls throughout the contest. Her short bench got even shorter when starter Lorena Leon was sidelined in the first half due to a gash on her head.
Nease scored all of her points in the second half, including nine in the fourth quarter.
"We are nine players strong, and I'll play all nine of them on any given night," Watts said.