HENDERSONVILLE The Merrol Hyde Magnet girls prep basketball team had a game plan on Monday evening, but visiting Aaron Academy wouldn’t let the Lady Hawks execute it the way they intended.
The Lady Royals cranked up the defensive pressure in the second half, turning a five-point lead at halftime into a 47-26 victory.
Aaron Academy (1-2) limited the Lady Hawks (0-3) to nine points in the second half, primarily through full-court pressure.
“Mostly, we just had to make sure they weren’t committing silly fouls and executing,” Aaron Academy head coach Jen Tenut said. “Other than that, they did well.”
Fouls were a problem for the Lady Royals in the first half, especially with only six players available.
Sophomore Erika Baker, who had seven of Aaron Academy’s first 12 points, committed three fouls in the first quarter and missed much of the second period. Baker finished with nine points.
“I was very worried (about the foul situation),” Tenut said. “At halftime, I said, ‘don’t foul and no slapping (at the ball),’ and that was pretty much it.”
It didn’t change the Lady Hawks’ approach, which was to attack inside when possible.
“We were trying to get in the lane and kick it (out for an open shot),” Merrol Hyde Magnet head coach Kelley Graham said. “When we got in the lane and kept it under control, we did that. But we panicked so many times and let the frenzy of the press control us, especially in the second half.”
Junior Cameshia Brown led the Lady Royals with 14 points, though she and Baker had to play much of the fourth quarter with four fouls. Neither player fouled out, despite the aggressive nature of Aaron Academy’s defensive attack.
“We were playing smart and aggressive,” Brown said. “We were just cutting off their vision to the next pass and making sure to keep our hands up and not foul.”
Freshman Grace Riley led the Lady Hawks with eight points. Classmate Gabrielle Steiner scored seven points but saw limited time on the court due to a hamstring injury.
“Gabrielle’s injury really affected us in the second half,” Graham said. “She couldn’t play half of the third quarter, and that’s when (Aaron Academy) built that lead.”
Freshman Caroline Riley filled in at point guard when Steiner was on the bench.
“As she goes, the rest of the team goes,” Graham said of Steiner. “She’s so good at dishing the ball to who it needs to go to. When she’s not in there, somebody who isn’t normally doing it has to step up. I thought Caroline did a good job, but she got tired too.”
The Lady Hawks scored the game’s first six points but watched their early lead disappear when the Lady Royals went on a 9-0 run over less than three minutes midway through the first quarter.
Aaron Academy led 22-17 at the half, then outscored the Lady Hawks by a 14-3 margin in the third quarter and 11-5 in the fourth period.
Junior Alex Lloyd led the Lady Hawks with nine rebounds, while junior Kayla Rainey tossed in 12 points for the Lady Royals.
The Lady Hawks play at Clarksville Academy on Monday. Aaron Academy plays at Franklin Christian Academy on Dec. 14.
Reach Chris Brooks at email@example.com or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.
AARON ACADEMY (47) – Cameshia Brown 14, Kayla Rainey 12, Erika Baker 9, Erin Fuqua 7, Dailyn Hannah 3, Abbie Conner 2.
MERROL HYDE MAGNET (26) – Grace Riley 8, Gabrielle Steiner 7, Kendall Frisbee 3, Alex Lloyd 3, Caroline Riley 3, Lauren Buchanen 2.
Half: 22-17, Aaron Academy. Three-point goals: Aaron Academy 3 (Baker 1, Fuqua 1, Rainey 1), Merrol Hyde Magnet 0. Records: Aaron Academy 1-2, Merrol Hyde Magnet 0-3.