Hard work pays for Devilettes

Hard work pays for Devilettes
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Curt Lee has forever preached “effort.”
Turns out, those sermons are no longer falling on deaf ears.
“I was proud to walk in that dressing room after the game and tell them how pleased I was with how hard they played,” the South Fulton girls’ coach said after his team won its fifth straight with a 58-38 thumping of Greenfield Tuesday night.
“I’ve never asked anything out of any of my teams other than for them to play hard. This group has really been doing that lately, and they certainly did tonight.”
Did they ever.
The Devilettes especially gave maximum effort on the defensive end, where they caused a whopping 31 Lady ’Jacket turnovers with fullcourt pressure.
The win pushed SF (12-5, 5-2) into a second-place tie with Union City in the District 14A standings, the two Obion County entries trailing only the state’s No. 1-ranked Class A team, Lake County, which is unbeaten in seven league games.
SF and UC will play for a second time this season next Tuesday on the Tornadoes’ court with Union City looking to complete a season sweep of the series after beating the Devilettes by 16 points in an earlier meeting.
South Fulton could not complete a sweep of G’field in Tuesday’s nightcap, the cold-shooting Redmen making just three field goals the entire second half in a 51-39 loss that was their fifth in a row.
The Devils (7-9, 2-5) were again missing leading scorer Jordan Davis, who was sitting out the second game of a state-mandated suspension for being ejected in last week’s loss at Hickman County.
And Davis’ absence on the offensive end was certainly felt down the stretch as SF turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions in the final two minutes after having crept to within 37-35 midway through the fourth quarter.
South Fulton continues its trek through the 14A circuit on Friday with a road game at Trenton.
SF 58, Greenfield 38 (G)
After the Lady ’Jackets scored the game’s first five points, South Fulton ran off 14 in a row and never looked back.
Taleeah Cross had eight of her game-high 17 points during that burst and Kalon Martin scored twice, but it was the Devilettes’ harassing fullcourt zone pressure that took G’field out of anything it wanted to do on the offensive end.
“Our press was really good, and I don’t thing they (Greenfield) really attacked it with a lot of confidence,” added Lee, whose club has won every one of its games in the aforementioned five-game streak by double figures.
“Again, so much of defense is just hustle and effort, and we gave that tonight. A lot of the time we had three freshmen on the court, and I think (and hope) they’re starting to learn and understand what we can get accomplished if we’ll just play hard at all times.”
SF led by as many as 15 (23-8) in the second period after a Sydney Easterwood bucket before the host team made some noise with back-to-back Haley Rawls 3-pointers that briefly cut the difference under double digits after Greenfield went more than four minutes without a bucket.
The last of Cross’ 14 first-half markers just before the halftime buzzer made it 27-16 South Fulton at the intermission.
Greenfield’s comeback hopes received a serious blow early in the third stanza when Rawls — one of her team’s top two scorers on the season — went down with a wrist injury at the 5:55 mark of the third period. Rawls, who was to be honored between games for consecutive trips to the state golf tournament, did not return to the game and will have further X-rays on what looked to be a significant injury.
The Lady ’Jackets (11-5, 4-3) had lost another starter, Emily Allen, to a knee injury in the first half.
The Devilettes’ lead was never less than 10 after Rawls’ injury.
Martin followed close behind Cross’ game-best point total with 16 markers. Both players also had nine rebounds, with Cross also coming up with six steals.
Easterwood had easily the most complete and impressive game of her young varsity career with 11 points for the winners.
Greenfield 51, SF 39 (B)
The Devils led by as many as seven points in the first half, up 19-12 early in the second period after Hunter Hutchins banked in a 3-pointer.
But G’field (7-7, 3-4) battled back to within a single point late in the quarter on Heath Crouse’ old-fashioned 3-point play and were within a deuce at the break at 26-24.
South Fulton simply could buy a bucket in the third period — making just one bucket. The Yellowjackets were only a little better, but did take the lead on Hunter Crouse’s bucket at the 5:15 mark and later took a 35-29 lead into the stretch run on a pullup jumper by Hunter Crouse.
Though still hardly a work of art on the offensive end, the Redmen (7-9, 2-5) got within 37-35 with 4:20 to play when Harrison Hawks knocked down a 3-pointer.
SF was still on the hosts’ heels at 41-37 when Kendall Greer converted from inside with just over three minutes to go, but never made another basket.
And while the Devils were turning the ball over on three successive possessions, Greenfield made 8-of-10 free throws to grow its lead to as many as 14 before the final buzzer.
“We just couldn’t make shots. We had six or seven within five feet, and we just didn’t make them,” South Fulton coach Wes Miller said afterward.
“This is two games now we’ve struggled to score, and I think tonight it was real evident we missed (Jordan) Davis. He’s the one we usually look to at the end of games, and we didn’t have that tonight.”
No SF player scored in double digits. Hutchins, Hawks and Tevaris James tallied six each, and James and Keshawn McManus had seven rebounds apiece.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 1.11.12

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