LAFAYETTE It wasn’t until sophomore Brooke Long converted a steal into a three-point play that the Hendersonville High girls basketball team had any breathing room.
That basket came in the final seconds of the Lady Commandos’ 48-42 victory over Macon County on Monday evening at Nera White Gymnasium.
Hendersonville (2-0) emerged victorious in a contest that featured 15 lead changes and three ties, and neither team led by more than four points until the final minute of the game.
“You like it, and at the same time, you don’t want it to be that close,” Hendersonville senior point guard Carleigh Short said. “It’s hard trading twos and threes sometimes. I, personally, would rather have a little bit of a lead and be comfortable, but we settled down and got back into a groove.”
Short – a Lipscomb University signee – finished with 18 points and made two free throws with 39.3 seconds to play, giving the Lady Commandos a 45-42 lead.
Long then forced a turnover and drew a foul as her layin dropped through the net, finishing off the three-point play with 23 seconds remaining.
Hendersonville shooters made 11 of their 15 attempts from the free-throw line. It was a lesson learned from the Lady Commandos’ opening game against Westmorland last Tuesday.
“We started our shootaround with free throws, because they can be important in a game like this,” Hendersonville head coach Drew Johnson said. “Luckily, we shot the ball a lot better from there tonight.”
On the other end, Macon County struggled from the foul line, shooting just 40 percent (6 of 15), and hitting only one of seven tries in the first half. However, the Tigerettes (1-2) kept the score close throughout, beginning with a pair of early 3-pointers from senior Lyndsey Belton.
“Luckily for me, I have some really smart girls,” Johnson said. “It took maybe two shots before it became pretty obvious that a lot of the offense that (Macon County) was running was going through (Belton), and she had the green light.”
Belton finished with 13 points to lead the Tigerettes, but she didn’t hit another three after the 4:46 mark of the first quarter.
“We tried to switch everything and make sure we got out and got a hand in her face,” Johnson said. “Every now and then, we’d have a lapse, but for the most part, we did a pretty good job tonight.”
Senior Joslyn Jarrett – who didn’t score in the first half – hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to beat the buzzer in the third quarter, giving the Lady Commandos a 34-32 lead. It ended a quarter where neither team made two unanswered baskets.
“When you come up here, you’re going to face a scrappy team,” Johnson said. “You’re going to face a team with shooters. I was kind of impressed with their post player (Kinsley Green) around the rim tonight. She was really good.
“It’s almost a typical Macon County team, but I think Coach (Larry) White is doing some different things. He’s a 38-year veteran. He knows what he’s doing. He runs a system, and they’re still learning it.”
The Lady Commandos lost their post player after junior Mackenzie Branch fouled out with 3:53 to play.
“She’s a stopper in the post a lot of times,” Johnson said of Branch. “With her being so big and having long arms, a lot of times she prevents easy buckets against us. She knows that some of those fouls that she got were fouls that we have to eliminate to keep her on the floor.”
Short said that having two games against teams with playing styles such as Macon County and Westmoreland is a different brand of basketball than teams in District 9-AAA typically play.
“They’re really scrappy,” Short said of Macon County. “I think in our county, we’re more used to trying to slowing it down and run some plays. It’s good to get up and down (the court). It’s a style we like, but at the same time, we’ve got to learn from it.”
Hendersonville will host Clarksville Northwest on Tuesday evening before taking the rest of the week off. The Lady Commandos will travel to Rossview on Tuesday.
Reach Chris Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.
HENDERSONVILLE (48) – Carleigh Short 18, Peyton Sheehan 12, Brooke Long 10, Joslyn Jarrett 8.
MACON COUNTY (42) – Lyndsey Belton 13, Jenna Russell 11, Kinsley Green 9, Sarah Carter 6, Kaylynn Dalton 3.
Half: 24-23, Macon County. Three-point goals: Hendersonville 5 (Jarrett 2, Long 1, Sheehan 1, Short 1), Macon County 4 (Belton 2, Dalton 1, Russell 1). Records: Hendersonville 2-0, Macon County 1-2.