Tigers, Lady Tigers open season losing to the Austin Black Bears
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
DECATUR – Hartselle basketball tipped off Monday night with both the varsity girls and boys being knocked off by Austin.
The Lady Tigers fell 55-42, while the Tigers relinquished a 10-point second half lead and lost 67-63.
Austin 55, Hartselle 42
Their was little doubt it was the first game of the season for both the Lady Bears and Lady Tigers.
The two teams combined for 47 fouls, 61 free throws and more than 35 turnovers, but Austin weathered the storm to pull out the win.
Still, Hartselle head coach Greg Adams said his team will improve.
"I'm not down at all because that was a very good team we played," he said. "Overall, I was pleased, but we were terrible from the free throw line."
The Lady Tigers were 21 of 41 from the charity stripe, including hitting 2 of 13 in the third quarter.
"If we just hit half there we're tied," Adams said.
Hartselle trailed just 28-22 at halftime despite starters Jessica Lindsey and Mary Virginia Reeves being in foul trouble. Both picked up two fouls in the first 3:16 of the first quarter, forcing Adams to go to his bench.
The Lady Tigers did not slack off any, though, holding Austin to six points in the third quarter.
Hartselle trailed by six to open up the final quarter, and less than a minute into the fourth found themselves down 38-28 after two quick Austin layups.
Lindsey tried to keep the Lady Tigers close with a short-range jumper and a three pointer, but Hartselle could get no closer than six.
Shan Jones led the team in scoring with 16 points, but took struggled shooting from the field and the line.
"She shot a lot because other people that normally would be shooting were out of the game with foul trouble," Adams said. "But, Shan is going to have to put 20, 25 times a game for us to be successful.
"She played all 32 minutes for us, and she was getting tired. Her shooting will come around."
Lauren Drake scored nine points, Lindsey had five, while Jessica Andrews and Britney Jackson added four a piece.
Tamara Weatherby had a game high 23 for Austin.
Austin 67, Hartselle 63
His voice raspy, Hartselle head coach Johnny Berry got his point across.
"I'm proud of my team," he said. "Boy, they worked hard."
Taking a team of untested Tigers into Joe Jones Gym in Austin, Hartselle nearly pulled an upset, leading by as many as 10 in the second half before falling by four points.
"We played 10 guys (Monday) night," he said. "Only four had ever played in a varsity game. They stepped up and played what I think will be a top five ranked team in the state in (Class) 6A. They're really good, and we went with them toe to toe."
It was obvious Hartselle was up to the challenge, as Austin tried to set the tone on the game's first play. Point guard Tyler Holloway rolled to the right and sent an alley-oop to Lorne Watson high above the rim for the throw-down.
Hartselle answered quick, though, as seconds later Chase Lusk hit a short jumper to tie the game.
Eventually, Eric Norwood gave the Tigers an 18-13 lead late in the first quarter with a jump shot.
Samuel Massey then started heating up in the second quarter, nailing three three-pointers, his final one giving Hartselle a 31-24 lead with 2:06 remaining in the half.
Hartselle held on for a 31-27 halftime lead and started the second half with a 6-0 run. Massey scored first and Keith Rodgers hit back-to-back buckets to give the Tigers a 10-point advantage.
It was a seven-point game at the end of the third quarter, but a 13-4 Austin rally gave the Black Bears a two-point lead at 51-49.
Massey broke the ice cold shooting with two layups and a free throw, followed by Lusk's jumper to give Hartselle a 56-52 advantage.
With 2:22 remaining in the contest, all the momentum shifted to Austin's side of the floor, as Dante Bolden hit a layup, got a steal and passed it out to Holloway for a three pointer. Cameron Gregg then hit a layup after a missed Hartselle three pointer to give Austin a 65-61 lead and seal the game.
"We didn't quit," Berry said. "We were focused on what we had to do, and now we have to build on that. We made some mistakes down the stretch and they did, too. But they made a few more plays than we did."
Massey led a balanced Hartselle scoring attack with 19 points, Rodgers had 15, Lusk scored 14 points and Norwood added 12.
Holloway led Austin with 16 points.
Hartselle will travel to Danville Friday night with varsity action beginning at 6.