Crickett Wyatt did not start Friday’s game for Southeast Whitfield’s girls basketball team, but she made one of the biggest impacts.
When one of Christian Heritage’s starters temporarily left the game, it also brought a major shift.
The Lady Raiders won 54-42 at home in the first meeting against the Lady Lions thanks to the sophomore’s 10 points off the bench, with eight coming in the second half as Southeast took the lead for good with Christian Heritage’s Rebecca Leonard temporarily sidelined with an injury.
In the boys game, Christian Heritage held off a late Southeast rally for a 72-63 win to split the varsity action.
In the girls game, with Christian Heritage (1-5) ahead 30-29, Leonard hurt her ankle going for a loose ball. Southeast’s Tavi Parris hit one of her three 3-pointers to spark a 15-2 quarter-ending run.
“That was an emotional punch,” Christian Heritage coach Heather Lowery said. “Any injury is serious to me, but when you look at the way things happened, you thought, ‘Oh, something is torn or something is broken.’ ... I didn’t even think she’d be back in. I think it was an 11-point turnaround.”
Leonard returned with 58.3 seconds left in the period and finished the game with a team-high 14 points and three 3-pointers. However, she could not stop Southeast from gaining a 48-33 lead with 5:50 to play, although it was trimmed to 48-42 with less than three minutes left. The Lady Raiders (2-4) scored the final six points.
“In the third quarter we had a pretty good quarter,” Southeast coach Michael Durham said, “and then in the fourth we started making too many mistakes again and started fouling again. But (we) did a good job tonight.”
Wyatt, who played in the night’s earlier junior varsity game, provided a big lift and played extended minutes in the contest.
The Lady Lions led 22-19 at halftime and 28-25 two minutes into the third quarter. Wyatt scored on a layup and a jumper with a Christian Heritage basket in between to cut the deficit to only one point. She also had two steals.
“I’ll say she probably was the main reason (for the run) in that third quarter,” Durham said. “She made some shots and got some pressure on the press.”
Christian Heritage held a 21-10 lead early in the second quarter thanks to three 3-pointers and Sarah Massengale’s effort. She finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, but had eight and six through the first half. The Lady Lions sank seven 3-pointers while the Lady Raiders only made four.
A big difference was at the free-throw line, where Christian Heritage finished 13 of 29 and Southeast went 14 of 22.
“Free throws killed us, but that’s what we’ve got to get better at,” Lowery said. “I’m proud of the way they played, with a ton of heart and effort.”
Parris had a team-high 15 points and added six rebounds for the Lady Raiders. Wendy Perez had 12 points and six rebounds. Megan Collins had a game-high 13 rebounds.
• Christian Heritage boys 72, Southeast 63: The Lions never trailed but received a scare from the Raiders in the closing minutes.
Cole Townsend and Will Patterson knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give Christian Heritage (2-0) the first points of the game, and the Raiders (0-7) held inside presences Michael McKinney and Andrew McEntyre to a combined 10 points and 12 rebounds, the Lions relied on the perimeter players.
They sank seven 3-pointers and got a combined 43 points from Patterson (23) and Cole Maffetone (20).
“We’re fortunate where we can play inside and outside,” Christian Heritage coach Anthony Moseley said, “and we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
Christian Heritage led 31-24 at halftime and watched the lead slip to two points halfway through the third quarter thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Southeast’s Devin Gentry. However, the lead expanded to 47-39 entering the final period and stretched to 63-52 with just 2:50 to play.
Gavin Hill got a steal and a layup, Zack Ramsey added one free throw, and Hill followed two Chaz Payne jumpers and two free throws from the Lions’ Patterson with an offensive rebound and layup all in 1:52 of play. With the Lions only leading 65-61, they made eight straight free throws — four coming from flagrant fouls — to secure a win.
“We couldn’t make layups,” Southeast coach Jake Dickey said. “We missed, I counted seven or eight layups. ... We missed 13 from the free-throw line. That’s pretty much the game I believe.”
Similar to the Christian Heritage girls, Southeast doomed itself with missed free throws. The Raiders finished 10 of 23 while the Lions went 21 of 32. Southeast’s leading scorers were Gentry and Hill, who each finished with 14 points. Payne added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Southeast outrebounded Christian Heritage 31-23, and Hill and Payne combined for 14 second-chance points.
“We were lucky to get out of here with a win,” Moseley said. “We played bad. We should’ve played so much better than that. We played real bad. ... We stole one. We did everything we could do to let them win the game, but they just didn’t take it. ... We just had too many turnovers and we let them kill us on the boards.”
• Dalton girls 62, Pickens 59: Dalton’s Taylor Behr scored eight of her team-leading 15 points on free throws in the fourth quarter, and the Lady Catamounts didn’t blink in a tight matchup against their visitors from Jasper.
Dalton (7-1) led 31-30 at halftime but trailed 45-43 entering the final period, when Behr’s shots sank the Dragonettes. Pickens hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final tally a bit closer, but the Lady Cats had led by 10 points during the fourth quarter.
“Pickens has got a lot of talent,” Dalton coach Jeff McKinney said. “Sarah Smith, their 6-1 post, is probably one of the best post players in our region. Our girls did a great job on her.
“The biggest thing was that Pickens made 10 3-pointers. We didn’t do a good job of guarding the shooter, so we have to do a better job of that. But I’m real pleased because we didn’t give them too many second shots. Beating Pickens was a good win for us.”
Hannah Cox added 11 points, and Brooke Thomas finished with 10 for Dalton.
• Dalton boys 71, Pickens County 46: The Cats’ defense forced 25 turnovers, and Dalton (2-1) turned a 9-0 start into a 21-point lead at the half in rolling to the easy home victory.
After dropping their season opener to Murray County a week ago, the Cats have won two in a row, and coach Mike Duffie has been pleased with the progress.
“We are starting to finish more shots at the basket and getting more together as a group,” Duffie said. “It is still early, but the process looks good so far.”
Rico Mears had 23 points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists to key Dalton’s attack. Alex Bautista and Demond Rucker each added 12 points.
• Northwest Whitfield girls 68, Cass 42: Not everything went as planned for the Lady Bruins in practice this week.
Little went wrong for them on the court Friday night in Tunnel Hill.
Autum Blackwell had 20 points and Kaitlin Wade added 12 as Northwest (5-2) built a 10-point lead by halftime and stretched the margin to 17 heading into the final period — when the Lady Colonels were held to just five points.
“I’m probably as pleased as I’ve been all year. It’s probably the most complete game we’ve played,” Lady Bruins coach Greg Brown said. “We’ve been battling sickness all week, had people in and out of practice. But I felt like we came together tonight and we had some kids step up, so I’m real pleased overall.”
Mary Kate Allen, a freshman, finished with a team-best eight rebounds. McKenzie Mastin dished out four assists.
• Northwest boys 75, Cass 42: In each of their first four games this season, the Bruins have opened up early leads in the first quarter.
It has translated to a 4-0 start.
Twelve different players scored for the Bruins, who bolted out to a 19-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and led by 25 at the half.
“The fast starts really get us into the rhythm of the game,” Northwest coach Ryan Richards said. “We have been able to do it in each of the games so far, and I hope we can continue to do it. I think more impressively, our defense is holding them to a few points and the boys have kept it up through the half and into the third.”
The victory was keyed by O’Shea Hill, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bruins. Tanner Quarles also scored 15 points, and Caleb Storey added 12.
“The kids are playing really well and playing at a high level,” Richards said. “We just have to keep playing better every day.”
• Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe girls 53, North Murray 43: North Murray’s Region 5-3A opener left coach Keith Robinette frustrated and put the Lady Mountaineers in a hole to start league play.
A 12-5 first-quarter lead turned into a 22-17 halftime deficit for North Murray, and a chance to take control in the fourth quarter proved to be a wasted opportunity, said Robinette, who added his team “didn’t play with much heart” and “got outplayed in every phase of the game.”
“We got outscored 15-5 in the second quarter because we stopped attacking and playing hard like we started the game,” Robinette said.
Robinette said the Lady Mountaineers (3-2) played poor transition defense, including in the fourth quarter when they cut the lead to a basket only to have the Lady Warriors respond with a 3-pointer. The period started with LFO leading 35-27.
“Coach (Dewayne) Watkins does a great job with his kids,” Robinette said. “He had them ready to go, and they really took it to us.”
Erin Robinson led North Murray with 16 points, while Hannah Hensley added nine for the Lady Mountaineers, who didn’t lose anyone from their 2011-12 roster to graduation and boast both height — two 6-foot-1-inch posts — and depth. During a preseason interview, Robinette said a region title was one of his team’s goals this season.
“Needless to say I’m not happy with our performance with the seniors and the group of kids we’ve got back,” he said. “But I’ll take full blame for it. Apparently I didn’t have them where they need to be at this point, so we’ll go to work Monday and get some things corrected.”
• North Murray boys 53, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 34: Austen Horn led all scorers with 16 points, and Brady Swilling added 14 as the Mountaineers won their Region 5-3A opener.
Zach Vess had a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds for North Murray (4-1). After leading 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Mountaineers held LFO to just five points in the second quarter to take a 29-16 lead.
“We did a really good job in the second quarter of defending them,” North Murray coach Tim Ellis said. “They only had seven field goals in the first half and in the second half. We did a pretty good job defensively. We are finding our groove a little bit.”
• Sonoraville girls 67, Coahulla Creek 31: The Lady Colts (0-3) dropped their Region 5-3A opener to the Lady Phoenix.
Coahulla Creek coach Ryan Long did not have individual statistics from the contest available.
• Results from Coahulla Creek’s boys scheduled home game against Sonoraville were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Christian Heritage boys 46, Southeast 40: Chase Tidwell led all scorers with 23 points to pace the visiting Lions to victory.
Evan Townsend chipped in nine points for Christian Heritage (3-2), while Noah Ramsey and Nathan Ensley scored in double digits for the Raiders with 16 and 10 points, respectively.
• Northwest boys 50, Cass 33: Ty Pendley scored a game-high 25 points as the Bruins remained undefeated through four games to start the season.
• Pepperell boys 34, Murray County 28: Alex Hicks had nine points for the Indians (0-3).
• Southeast girls 43, Christian Heritage 37: Pressley Poag led the Lady Lions (3-2) in the loss.
Southeast Whitfield’s statistics were not reported.
• North Murray boys 47, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 36: Matt Clayton had seven points to lead the Mountaineers in the season-opening win.