By WAYNE PHILLIPS
Sports Editor Emeritus
Faced with playing Greeneville and their strong post game without its own 6-0 starting inside player, North Greene persevered behind a good defensive effort and 21 points from junior Mendy McNeese and beat the Lady Devils 43-35 Tuesday night at Hal Henard Gym.
The victory was North Greene's 12th of the year against a single loss, and it sends the Huskies into Thursday's crucial District 1-A encounter at Unaka with a boost of momentum.
Later, the Greeneville boys basically shot lights out, making 60 percent of their field goals on the night (33-of-55) and rolled past the Huskies 82-47.
Greeneville is now off until after Christmas. The Lady Devils play in the Landair Ladies' Classic on their home floor beginning Dec. 26, while the Greeneville boys go to the Maryville Invitational and take on the host school Dec. 26 at 8 p.m.
North Greene has the district game on tap for Thursday night at Unaka.
DEFENSE PROPELS HUSKIES
North Greene's Laiken Morrow sat on the bench with a cast over a bad ankle, so Coach James Buchanan was glad that his squad picked this night as one of their best defensive efforts of the year.
"We just played five (players) in the second half, but they got into a good defensive groove and I didn't want to mess with it," Buchanan said. "Laiken is going to be out for a while. We'll find out more later this week, but it could be two weeks or longer. It was one of our best defensive games, especially without her (Morrow) in there."
Junior Mendy McNeese scored a game-high 21 points, along with three steals and three assists and eight rebounds, and converted 6-of-7 free throws in the game. The Huskies got to the line 24 times but made only 13 as a team.
"Mendy is a shot-maker," Buchanan smiled. "But our ball handling wasn't as good as it needs to be, and we didn't finish at the free throw line as well as we would have liked. But we were happy to get a win."
The Lady Devils managed to hang close, thanks to some strong work on the offensive glass. Junior Madison Shipley led GHS (4-8) with 20 points and seven boards, while Melissa Scott also yanked off seven boards.
"We knew their offensive rebounding would be a problem because they have strong post players," Buchanan said. "Early on they got some putbacks, but we overcame that and got into the bonus (free throw) early."
The Huskies got the spread they needed in the first half. It was 14-12 midway through the second when a 10-2 run boosted them to a 26-16 halftime advantage.
Greeneville got within seven with 4:40 to go in the third on a 3-pointer by Madison Grubbs and a bucket by Lorena Leon to cut the gap to 30-23.
But McNeese stopped that rally by hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and NG was up 38-27 entering the final period.
The Huskies chose to play keep-away, and neither team scored for almost four minutes of the final quarter. McNeese hit two foul shots with 4:03 left to build the lead to 40-27 and the Huskies never made a field goal in the quarter.
They chose to go to the foul line, where they made enough, 3-of-8, to keep the Devils at bay.
Dariane Bailey hit double figures with 10 points for the Huskies.
North Greene (43): Guelli 0-1 1-2 1, Dariane Bailey 2-6 4-5 10, Weems 2-5 2-6 6, Mendy McNeese 7-17 6-7 21, Mercer 1-2 0-0 2, Harmon 0-0 0-4 0, Baxter 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 13-32 13-24 43.
Greeneville (35): L.Leon 1-7 0-3 2, Grubbs 2-8 0-0 5, Madison Shipley 9-17 2-3 20, Hall 1-2 0-0 2, Scott 1-3 0-0 2, Holt 0-1 0-0 0, Neas 1-6 0-0 2, Lowery 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS: 16-47 2-6 35.
3-Point Goals: NG-3 (Bailey 2, McNeese). GHS-1 (Grubbs).
Score by quarters:
North Greene 14 12 12 5--43
Greeneville 8 8 11 8--35
HOT SHOOTING LIFTS GHS BOYS
The Greeneville boys were red-hot from the floor, and their early start when they jumped to a 22-6 first quarter lead was too much for North Greene to overcome.
Coach Brad Woolsey's Greene Devils (10-3), after a loss to Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett a night earlier, hit 9-of-14 shots in the opening quarter, led by Landon Duncan with three 3-pointers, and they didn't cool off a bit in the second frame as 10-of-15 shots found the cylinder.
Duncan finished with a game-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers, while Jacob Cobble netted 15 and Corey Waddell added 11. GHS made eight shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
North Greene (10-3) got 17 points and 10 rebounds from Garrett Harbin, while junior guard Tyler Bailey pumped in 12. Brett Pollock had nine rebounds.
It was 46-21 at intermission. The Devils didn't show as much intensity after returning from the locker room, and a 10-4 run by North Greene closed the gap to 19 points. But that would be as close as they would get with GHS moving to a 66-37 advantage by the close of the period.
The tournament next week at Maryville will be a challenge for Greeneville as many of the best teams from the Knoxville area are entered in the 16-team field.
North Greene (47): Collins 1-10 0-0 2, Bolton 0-4 0-1 0, Tyler Bailey 3-9 3-4 12, Garrett Harbin 6-11 5-7 17, Pollock 2-4 3-4 7, Britton 2-9 1-2 5, Hall 1-7 0-0 2, Mullins 1-4 0-0 2. TOTALS: 16-58 12-18 47.
Greeneville (82): Z.Cobble 4-8 0-0 9, Landon Duncan 7-11 1-1 19, Jacob Cobble 6-8 3-5 15, Culbreth 4-5 0-0 8, Waddell 4-4 1-1 11, Grady 2-5 0-0 5, Harrison 1-2 0-0 2, Bailey 3-4 2-2 8, Fox 0-1 0-0 0, Renner 1-3 0-0 2, Young 1-4 1-1 3. TOTALS: 33-55 8-10 82.
3-Point Goals: NG-3 (Bailey 3). GHS-8 (Duncan 4, Waddell 2, Z.Cobble, Grady).
Score by quarters:
North Greene 6 15 16 10--47
Greeneville 22 24 20 16--82