Defense, rebounding overcome Tecumseh shooting woes

Brian Johnson
Tecumseh's Tawny Billy (right) and Perkins-Tryon's Karmen Jones lunge for the basketball Friday in the semifinals of Bethel High School's First United Bank Classic at the B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.

BETHEL ACRES – When the shots don't fall on a consistent basis, the Tecumseh Lady Savages are finding ways to reach the win column.

Defense and rebounding were areas Tecumseh could hang its hat on Friday as they knocked off Class 4A 17th-ranked Perkins-Tryon 40-31 in the semifinals of the First United Bank Classic at Bethel High School's B.E. Cantrell Fieldhouse.

The Lady Savages shot just 40.5% for the game, but limited the Lady Demons to 23.8% while holding a 36-24 rebounding advantage.

“Defensively, we are playing really well, especially if we don't commit stupid fouls,” said Tecumseh head coach Eldon Gentry. “What I like offensively is that everybody got involved against a ranked team. We're just playing good team basketball.”

Senior Katelyn LaFrance topped the Lady Savage scoring effort with 14 points as she knocked down 6-of-9 shots from the floor, hit 1-of-2 free throws and recorded a pair of steals. Sophomore Kenzli Warden had a rough shooting night before finishing with nine points and six boards. Tawny Billy, another Tecumseh senior, tallied eight points while totaling three steals, three boards and a blocked shot.

The senior tandem of Baylee Crawford and Taylor Mansell mopped up the boards in convincing fashion. Crawford had 10 rebounds to go with her five points and two blocks and Mansell compiled nine rebounds to go with her basket.

“With Taylor, she does things you won't see often on the stat sheet. She's our hustle player and she's the kind of player who holds us together defensively,” Gentry said.

Tecumseh, which improved to a perfect 4-0 with Friday's win, scored the first eight points of the game and led 11-2 after one quarter.

Warden nailed her first two shots of the game, Billy sank a 3-point basket and Crawford hit 1-of-2 free shots to produce that early 8-0 cushion.

Perkins-Tryon pulled within 11-7 early in the second quarter but the Lady Savages closed the final 4:27 by outscoring the Lady Demons 12-3 during that span. LaFrance scored six of Tecumseh's 12 second-quarter. Crawford scored off a LaFrance assist, Billy hit a shot and Serenity Jacoway scored a layup off a backdoor cut as the Lady Savages' lead eventually blossomed to 23-10 at the break.

Tecumseh ultimately pushed its advantage to 17 (27-10) in the third quarter but settled for a 10-point lead (32-22) through three periods. Perkins-Tryon cut it to nine twice, including Emoree Fields' 3-point jumper with three seconds to go.

No Lady Demon reached double figures in scoring. Ella Rains and Zara Combs led the way with nine points apiece in a losing cause.

Both teams were under 50% from the foul line – the Lady Savages were only 4-of-9 and Perkins-Tryon was just 5-of-11.

Bridge Creek 45, McLoud 29 (Girls Semifinals Friday)

Lainey Morrow registered a double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds to go with four steals as Lady Bobcats outscored the Lady Redskins by a 24-11 margin in the second half.

It was a miserable shooting game for McLoud which connected on only 26% of its field-goal tries and only 28.6% of its shots (4-of-14) from the foul line.

Bridge Creek fared a little better from the field at 32.7% and didn't exactly put on a free-throw clinic itself as it was only 43.8% (7-of-16).

Summer Fergerson added 14 points to the Lady Bobcat offense as only four Bridge Creek players got into the scoring column.

The Lady Redskins' top scorer was Lexie Boyer with eight points, including a pair of 3-point jumpers, as she like the rest of the team struggled with their shooting. However, she did grab nine rebounds and recorded three steals.

Cheyenne Banks followed with seven points in a losing cause as she snatched 13 boards and blocked three shots.

McLoud not only experienced shooting woes but committed 17 turnovers to the Lady Bobcats' 11.

The wheels of the bus fell off for the Lady Redskins midway through the third quarter. They trailed only 24-22 after a Boyer bucket and a Shawnee Pfeiffer free shot.

Bridge Creek scored eight straight points to take a 32-22 advantage into the fourth. McLoud was only 1-of-9 shooting from the floor in the third.

The Lady Bobcats then went on an 8-2 run to start the fourth and pulled away.

The Lady Redskins managed just four field-goal makes in the second half with three coming in the fourth quarter.

Hannah Badon also totaled four steals for Bridge Creek.