By Chris Whitfield
CHATSWORTH — North Murray High School girls basketball coach Keith Robinette said that if Grace Phillips wasn’t so selfless, his team would be better off. And if she wasn’t so selfless, she might not have had to hit the game-winning shot Friday night.
Phillips buried a 3-pointer from the right wing with two seconds left in the game to vault the host Lady Mountaineers into the championship game of their Alfa Insurance Mistletoe Madness tournament with a 42-41 win over Dade County. The North Murray boys couldn’t make it a doubleheader for the championship games, falling 42-36 to Heritage-Catoosa in Friday’s nightcap.
All of Friday’s championship bracket games in the tournament were at North Murray, while all of the day’s consolation bracket games were at Bagley Middle School.
The tournament wraps up with action for all 16 boys and girls teams with place games at North Murray starting at 10 a.m. today.
In girls competition, Christian Heritage takes on Coahulla Creek at 10 a.m. for seventh place, Dalton takes on Gilmer at 1 p.m. for fifth place, Dade County takes on Sonoraville at 4 p.m. for third place and North Murray takes on Calhoun at 7 p.m. in the championship.
In boys competition, Morris Innovative takes on Sonoraville at 11:30 a.m. for seventh place, Christian Heritage takes on Gilmer at 2:30 p.m. for fifth place, North Murray takes on Gordon Lee at 5:30 p.m. for third place and Calhoun takes on Heritage at 8:30 p.m. in the championship.
The Lady Mountaineers (4-5) led 35-30 going into the fourth quarter and scored just four points before the heroics by Phillips, a senior. The Lady Wolverines (6-4) went on an 8-2 run over nearly the entire final five minutes of the game. However, Phillips hit the shot that mattered.
After Dade County missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 12 seconds remaining, the Lady Mountaineers went to the other end with Megan Pittman penetrating to the free throw line before kicking it out to Phillips.
Phillips is much more of a natural wing, but because of injuries, she has had to play in the post for the Lady Mountaineers through the first month of the season. Robinette expects some players to return and for Phillips to move to her more natural spot on the floor.
He also wants her to be a little selfish.
“She has such a great skill set, and she is my first four-year starter and is battle-tested,” Robinette said. “We are a lot better off on the floor with her out there, but she is a pleaser and sometimes she doesn’t take a shot. I would love for her to have 15 to 20 shots a game. I believe in her.”
Phillips finished with 11 points, joining guard Kara Deal as North Murray’s leading scorers. Phillips said scoring more is not something that comes naturally.
“It is my role this year that I have to score more for my team,” she said. “It is something that I have to do, and coach Robinette said in the locker room he had been trying to get me to do that for the last two years. I am so unselfish, and that is what is holding me back. I look to set up others.”
• Heritage boys 41, North Murray 36: The Mountaineers held Heritage to just two points in the third quarter, but went scoreless for nearly six minutes of the fourth as the Generals earned a spot in the championship game.
North Murray (7-4) trailed 24-18 at the end of the first half but turned that around with a 10-2 edge in the third to go up by a basket. Drake McCowan’s 15-foot jumper with just less than seven minutes remaining gave the Mountaineers a 30-27 lead, but Heritage (8-5) went on a 9-0 run and North Murray couldn’t recover.
Noah Allen led the Mountaineers with eight points.
• Christian Heritage boys 75, Morris Innovative 20: The Lions led 18-0 after the opening period and 34-4 at halftime as they bounced back from an opening-round loss to Heritage in Mistletoe Madness competition.
“We played one of our better defensive games,” Christian Heritage coach Anthony Moseley said. “We still missed several free throws, but coming off a game like last night, as bad as we played last night, everybody played so much better today. ... They showed growth coming off of a bad performance.”
Jake Porter’s 15-point effort paced the Lions (5-4), while Chase Tidwell added 10 points and Cameron Locke chipped in nine.
Tevin Roberts and Justin Scott each had six points to lead Morris Innovative (0-10).
• Dalton girls 57, Coahulla Creek 40: The Lady Catamounts outscored the Lady Colts 24-6 in the fourth quarter to turn a back-and-forth game into a blowout in Mistletoe Madness consolation bracket action.
Sarah Hartshorn, who led all scorers with 19 points, scored 12 of them in the fourth quarter to lead Dalton (3-3). Teammate Hannah Cox had 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
“We started to adjust defensively in the second half,” Dalton coach Lacie Coquerille said. “We were really happy with our effort and our aggressiveness going after loose balls. It was good to finish the game strong.”
Finishing was exactly the problem for the team on the other end of the floor.
“We just ran out of steam in the fourth,” Coahulla Creek coach Ryan Long said. “Tired legs got the best of us. Dalton executed well in the second half and got the job done.”
Bethany Goodwin scored 12 points to lead Coahulla Creek (5-7).
• Gilmer 70, Christian Heritage 26: In another Mistletoe Madness consolation bracket game, the Lady Lions (1-10) trailed 33-16 at halftime before the Lady Bobcats outscored them 22-6 in the third quarter and never looked back.
“We just didn’t shoot well,” said Christian Heritage coach Heather Lowery, whose team was 3-for-19 from 3-point range and 3-for-15 from the foul line.
Sarah Massengale led Christian Heritage with 10 points and six rebounds.
• Smith County (Tenn.) girls 73, Northwest Whitfield 52: Kerrigan King had 12 points to lead the Lady Bruins (9-3), who fell behind quickly and lost for the second straight day at the Smoky Mountain Classic in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
“(Smith County) came out really, really hot and hit a bunch of shots early,” Lady Bruins coach Greg Brown said. “We were down about 20 at the half ... they were very, very good. Someone told me they’re one of the top-five ranked teams in (Class 2A) in Tennessee and they played like it today. They had two players that outscored us between the two of them — one with 31 and one with 27.
“We played a lot better in the second half, but we just got too far down in the first half.”
Mary Kate Allen had six rebounds and Halle Ford had four assists as category leaders for Northwest, which closes its three-game stint at the tournament at 1 p.m. today in the seventh-place game versus Chattanooga-area program Ooltewah.
• Southeast Whitfield girls 60, Ringgold 43: In non-tourney, non-region competition at Ringgold, the visiting Lady Raiders (8-3) rolled behind a pair of double-digit scoring efforts from Cricket Wyatt (16 points) and Judelle Herrera (15 points).
Wendy Perez pulled down 10 rebounds for Southeast.
• Ringgold boys 63, Southeast 50: Ty Pendley scored 20 points and Rhett Harper added 18, but the Raiders (3-9) fell behind 19-8 after one quarter, 31-19 at halftime and 48-30 entering the final period.
“We were kind of neck and neck for a while (in the first quarter),” Southeast coach James Case said. “They shot some 3’s and that surged them ahead.”
• Southeast freshman girls 41, Ringgold 40 (OT): Jennifer Flores scored 16 points as the Lady Raiders won for the fifth time in six games to start the season.