by tate russell
sun sports writer
Greeneville set out to challenge Mendy McNeese Saturday night, and the North Greene guard responded by scoring 18 points in a 53-48 win.
From the tip, Greeneville's Selena Leon made it obvious she was not going to allow anything to come easy for McNeese. For much of the evening the two were more or less attached at the hip.
Unfortunately for Leon and the Lady Greene Devils McNeese didn't need much room to be lethal from the field. On Saturday there were occasions when Leon didn't give her an inch and had help from the post, but McNeese still managed to knock down shots.
"We've been having a lot of teams try to take her out of the game and as a result we've tried to have other players take on new roles," North Greene head coach James Buchanan explained. "When she did get the ball she was very patient with her shots except there in the fourth a little bit, but it's hard to tell a playmaker not to go out there and make plays."
With McNeese the focus of the Lady Greene Devils' attention, North Greene (15-8 overall) deferred to freshman Katelyn Weems to handle to primary ball handling duties. Weems showed she was a capable of the running the offense and displayed her ability to slash to the basket en route to a13 point performance.
Greeneville (7-15) was able to get out in front early, led by forward Melissa Scott who first went to rack and absorbed contact to convert and old-fashioned three-point play. The Lady Devils then pressured an inbound play under the Lady Huskies' basket and forced a five second violation. Lorena Leon next found Scott for an easy layup and a 9-4 advantage halfway through the first quarter.
Scott led Greeneville with 16 points on the night.
The Lady Greene Devils' offense stalled to close the quarter and McNeese and Weems turned up the heat. The duo combined for seven points to finish the first quarter up 11-9.
In the second quarter the teams exchanged baskets in the early portion but the Lady Huskies were able to keep Greeneville out of the scoring column for the last 3:40 of the half. Weems added four points in the closing minutes and moved the Lady Huskies lead to 23-15 at intermission.
Coming out of the locker room Dariane Bailey went inside to find points, scoring four early off of offensive rebounds.
Bailey finished with 12 points.
The Lady Huskies stretched their lead to 11 despite a quality quarter by Scott who was active the paint, scoring six points for Greeneville.
Both teams turned up the offense in the fourth quarter as Greeneville tried to race their way to a victory. Greeneville scored 25 points in the first three quarters and then 23 points in the final quarter.
The difference was the offensive spark Lorena Leon added off the bench. She scored 15 points in the game and 11 in the fourth quarter.
Greeneville coach Lesley Murray said, "She was great. She had been struggling a little bit and we talked to her yesterday about it. If she can consistently give us that performance we'll be in good shape going down the stretch. Her playing like that will help our team a whole lot."
Down 10 the Lady Devils made the final minutes exciting for everyone in attendance. Lorena Leon knocked down a triple from the left to cut the deficit to seven, but Bailey followed with two trips to the charity stripe and three points for Lady Huskies.
Greeneville's defensive pressure caused North Greene to turn the ball over on an inbound after Madison Shipley nailed two free throws. Lorena Leon was fouled on the perimeter and she capitalized on her bonus free throws to make it a two possession game.
Shipley had huge night on the defensive end, holding North Green's talented center, Laiken Morrow, to only two points.
Greenville had one last shot when Madison Grubbs picked the pocket of Faith Mercer and advanced the ball to Selena Leon who was fouled with 9.9 seconds remaining. Leon was only able to convert on the back end of her charity tosses, making it a five point game.
Just one second of clock time later McNeese iced the game with a pair free throws.
The win has the Lady Huskies moving in a positive direction with a district win and win over a county rival on back-to-back days coming off a series of close loses.
"That's two big wins over two good teams that are playing well right now. We have another big week next week and I hope were headed in the right direction now," Buchanan said.
A strong finish carried the Greenville boys to a 66-46 win over North Greene Saturday night.
Landon Duncan scored 18 points in the second half to lead a late charge by the Greene Devils (18-7 9-0) that created the decisive margin.
"I don't think our effort was where it needed to be especially in the first eight minutes. Our intensity wasn't there and North Greene got after us and they worked their tails off," Greeneville head coach Brad Woolsey said. "But in the third quarter we came out and did some things well especially on defense."
North Greene (11-9 0-5) started hot when Troy Hall sank a three from the left wing out of the gate. Tanner Collins followed with a three pointer from the right side on the next trip down the court and the Huskies held a two point lead at the end of the first quarter.
For a brief moment it looked as though Duncan had given the Greene Devils the lead as time expired in the opening quarter. He fielded an inbound pass with just tenths of a second on the clock and ten feet behind the mid-court stripe. He hurled the ball toward the goal as the buzzer sounded and the ball ripped through the net. Initially the shot was declared good but after some conferring by the official it was waived off to the Greene Devil's disappointment.
The Huskies carried the lead for the first half of the second quarter before Cory Waddell decided to take over. In the final four minutes of the second period the score swung from 21-18 in favor of the Huskies to 30-23 in the Greene Devils favor.
Waddell scored 11 straight points from all over the court and gave Greeneville their first lead with 3:10 left in the half at 22-21.
Woolsey said, "We wanted Cory step up, he had been struggling shooting the ball and tonight he was strong enough to take the ball inside and get things done. We're very pleased with how he played tonight."
Greeneville came out of intermission on fire and outscored North Greene 21-11 in the third quarter. Duncan played a big role in the second half surge for the Greene Devils as he scored 10 of those 21 points.
Duncan finished with a game high 21 points and three from behind the arc.
North Greene head coach Brandon Broyles said, "Duncan is very good player, he can really shoot the ball. We tried to concentrate on him but he can score it anytime you give him an inch and tonight he did that."
The lead stretched to 20 points late in the period but Tyler Bailey closed the gap as the quarter expired when he launched from well behind the arc and connected as the buzzer sounded.
Bailey finished with 14 points with four threes for North Greene. Garrett Harbin led the Huskies with 16 points.
Broyles said, "My kids battled, I can't fault their effort. Every one of them contributed and I'm real proud of their effort and intensity."
The Huskies closed the gap to 11 when Bailey dropped a trey from the right wing 50 seconds into the fourth quarter but that was as close the Huskies would come to a comeback. Duncan, Waddell and Jacob Cobble closed strong for the Greene Devils and stomped out the Huskies hope of comeback.
Cobble finished with 10 points in the contest.