January 6, 2013

Prep basketball: Christian Heritage girls gaining their sight

Devin Golden

— Sarah Massengale usually doesn’t shoot with her eyes closed.

With the game on the line Saturday, she decided to switch things up.

The sophomore’s turnaround jumper with 20.2 seconds left lifted host Christian Heritage to a 47-45 victory, moving the Lady Lions to 2-0 in Sub-region 6A-A action against Trion. Opening sub-region play hasn’t been as kind to the Christian Heritage boys, who lost 75-46 and moved to 0-2.

Ahead by just a point, Rebecca Leonard made one of two free throws to give Christian Heritage (5-9) a 45-43 lead with less than a minute left. Crystal Lee followed with a running layup for the Lady Bulldogs (3-7, 0-2) to tie the game with 37 seconds remaining.

Lady Lions coach Heather Lowery’s timeout set up the game’s final score.

“It was a play for (Massengale),” Lowery said. “It was a screen coming across for her and get her cutting to the basket.”

The screen for Massengale came too early, and by the time she got the pass the defender was already on her back. She improvised, did her patented turnaround mid-range jump shot and banked it off the backboard and in.

“I just kind of threw it up there and it went in,” Massengale said. “I was surprised. ... I had my eyes closed (when I shot).”

Trion’s Hayley Jones missed two free throws and the ball went out of bounds, off a Lady Bulldog. Christian Heritage turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, but Massengale grabbed a steal and was fouled with only 1.3 seconds left.

After only winning three of their first nine games — seven played in two tournaments, the Lady Cats Invitational and North Murray’s Mistletoe Madness — the Lady Lions are making some noise in sub-region play. They won 70-61 on Friday against Excel Christian Academy.

“I think (those tournaments) made us where we are today,” Lowery said.

Massengale had game highs in points, 15, and rebounds, 16. She also was the Lady Lions’ only scorer — five free throws — for the first seven minutes of the contest.

Trion grabbed an early 10-5 lead and held Christian Heritage to zero field goals until Ransley Defoor made a basket with 53 seconds left.

“I think it was a little bit more their defense, their pressure,” Lowery said. “We’d get the ball to the high post, drive and they’d collapse.”

However, Defoor’s basket sparked the squad. Drew Tipton scored right before the end of the opening period, and Alexis Poag knocked down a 3-pointer on the first possession of the next to give Christian Heritage a 12-10 lead, its first of the game.

Christian Heritage’s big-gest lead was eight points, while Trion’s was seven. The Lady Lions finished 11 for 21 from the free-throw line, and the Lady Bulldogs ended 8 of 21.

“It was free throws and layups,” Trion coach Josh Cowart said. “We missed so many layups. We should’ve won by 20.”

Lewis led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points.

Trion boys 75, Christian Heritage 46: The Bulldogs (5-4, 1-1) scored 17 of the first 21 points and held a 40-28 lead at halftime.

The Lions (4-5) didn’t do any better coming out of the break and allowed their opponents to score the first 16 points of the second half. Trion’s largest lead, 63-33, came at the end of the third.

“I told my players, ‘It’s 10 or 12 points. We can’t shake them,’” Bulldogs coach Lanny Thomas said. “At the half, we talked about continuing with consistency.”

Michael McKinney scored 17 points for Christian Heritage, and Will Patterson chipped in eight. Isaac Thomas scored 15 for Trion, which had 15 offensive rebounds and 15 defensive rebounds and eight 3-pointers.