By WAYNE PHILLIPS
Sports Editor Emeritus
Coach James Buchanan's North Greene Lady Huskies, ranked among the top 10 Class A schools in the state all season, hope they are, and if the way they played in the fourth quarter against county rival South Greene Tuesday night is any indication, the Huskies could be hard to handle over the next couple of weeks.
North Greene beat homestanding South Greene in a 51-45 thriller to improve their season record to 22-8 and head into a Saturday semifinal showdown against Hampton in the District 1-A Tournament on a high note. That tourney will be held at Science Hill High School in Johnson City.
The South Greene boys closed their regular season on a high note as well, shaking off their heartbreaking loss to West Greene on Saturday night to put away the Huskies 62-51.
HUSKIES RALLY BACK
The rubber game of a three-game series in "The Civil War" against North and South went the way of the Huskies after they staged a furious fourth quarter rally. The two teams had split a pair of earlier season meetings.
Trailing 43-37 with 5:40 left in the ball game, North Greene ripped off 14 straight points as the shots refused to fall for the homestanding Rebs and they saw their season record dip to 20-10 after the setback.
"We've struggled some in the fourth quarter this season," Buchanan said of his Huskies. "Once we got the lead back tonight, we played great. We didn't make all our free throws, but we made enough. I thought it was a great effort by our girls against a very good ball club."
Playing a tough team like the Rebels heading into the post-season suits Buchanan just fine.
"We want to play a good team before the tournament starts," he said. "Some say if you lose the girls can get down. But I don't see it that way. You take it one day at a time in the tournament, anyway."
The Huskies led most of the first half, albeit by a slender margin. They got 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers and two free throws, to lead 14-13 after one, then went up by six in the second before settling for a 25-21 lead at the break.
The Rebs came out of the locker room inspired and scored eight straight to jump into the lead, and a 3-pointer by Javan Wilhoit put them up 34-27 with 2:45 left.
But it was a game of spurts. North Greene weathered that storm by scoring seven straight to get even, but fell behind 39-34 on back to back buckets by SG's Maelyn Cutshaw to finish the period.
Cutshaw scored again to start the final stanza to put the home team ahead 41-34, but again the Huskies were up to the task. Junior Mendy McNeese, who led all players in the game with 20 points, nailed a 3-pointer to make it 41-37.
South Greene's Cheyenne Upton made two foul shots with 5:40 to go to send her team back up 43-37, but that would be the final time the Rebels would score until the game was well in hand of the Huskies as they went on a big 14-0 run.
A 7-0 spurt, with McNeese, Laiken Morrow and Dariane Bailey getting points, put NG up 44-43, and they never looked back.
South Greene's shots wouldn't fall, and North Greene was steady at the foul line with Morrow hitting 5-of-7 down the stretch and Corinne Guielli knocking down two more as the Huskies refused to wilt.
In addition to McNeese's 20 points, Morrow scored 12 and made it a double-double by grabbing 12 rebounds.
South Greene got 19 points from Cutshaw and 14 points and 11 boards from junior Alora Ricker.
South Greene opens the District 2-AA Tournament at Claiborne on Thursday night when they take on Cumberland Gap at 6 p.m. North Greene plays Hampton in the District 1-A semifinals Saturday at Science Hill.
NORTH GREENE (51): Guelli 0-5 4-4 4, Bailey 2-4 1-2 6, Laiken Morrow 3-8 5-7 12, Weems 1-7 3-6 6, Mendy McNeese 8-16 0-0 16, Baxter 1-2 0-0 3, Harmon 0-1 0-0 0, Mercer 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15-44 13-19 51.
SOUTH GREENE (45): Upton 1-3 4-4 6, Wilhoit 1-7 0-0 3, Wykle 0-6 0-0 0, Maelyn Cutshaw 8-18 2-5 19, Alora Ricker 5-8 3-4 14, Williams 1-1 1-2 3. TOTALS: 16-43 10-15 45.
3-Point Goals: NG-7 (McNeese 4, Weems, Morrow, Bailey). SG-3 (Wilhoit, Cutshaw, Ricker).
Score by quarters:
North Greene 14 11 9 17--51
South Greene 13 8 18 6--45
REB BOYS FINISH STRONG
South Greene put together one of their best games of the year to close out the regular season, beating North Greene 62-51 to improve to 5-22 on the year while the Huskies are 12-14.
North Greene will play Hampton Friday night in the District 1-A elimination game at Science Hill. South Greene plays on Friday at Claiborne in the District 2-AA event against Grainger.
Four Rebels hit in double figures, led by junior Nick Fillers with 21 points including four 3-pointers. But he got some great support. Daniel Lowery had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Bo Woods, the only senior in the lineup, scored 11, and sophomore guard Logan Tweed had 11 points, six assists and three steals.
Senior Garrett Harbin and junior Tyler Bailey shared scoring honors for the Huskies with 13 points each while sophomore Troy Hall hit four 3-pointers for 12 points. Tanner Collins had nine points and led on the boards with 10.
The Rebels took command at the start of the second quarter, breaking from a 14-14 tie at the first quarter horn to reel off 10 unanswered points to gain some separation. They led 33-21 at intermission.
Lowery had a strong third quarter in scoring and rebounding, and Woods and Fillers threaded in back-to-back 3-pointers to boost the Rebs to a 41-23 advantage.
The Huskies tried to respond. They scored eight straight -- including a 3-pointer by Bailey and then three free throws after he was fouled while shooting another long one -- and closed to 46-36 before Fillers smoothly closed the third with a long trey.
South Greene ran their offense well in the fourth and made key buckets, and North Greene was never able to get closer than the final 11 point spread. Fortunately for the Rebs, they didn't have to depend upon free throws, as they made only 4-of-16 in the game while the Huskies were a perfect 10-of-10.
NORTH GREENE (51): Collins 3-6 2-2 9, Troy Hall 4-8 0-0 12, Tyler Bailey 3-8 5-5 13, Garrett Harbin 5-12 3-3 13, Pollock 1-2 0-0 2, Mullins 0-2 0-0 0, Britton 1-5 0-0 2. TOTALS: 17-43 10-10 51.
SOUTH GREENE (62): Daniel Lowery 5-11 2-7 12, Logan Tweed 5-8 0-2 11, Nick Fillers 8-12 1-2 21, Bo Woods 4-12 1-3 11, Yates 0-1 0-2 0, Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Robinson 3-3 0-0 7. TOTALS: 25-49 4-16 62.
3-Point Goals: NG-7 (Hall 4, Bailey 2, Collins). SG-8 (Fillers 4, Woods 2, Tweed, Robinson).
Score by quarters:
North Greene 14 7 15 15--51
South Greene 14 19 16 13--62