By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Years ago scheduling a home-school team meant an easy victory.
But in recent years teams like the MHEA Lady Eagles have won their share of TSSAA games including an early season victory at Millington last year. With players like Emily Lytle, Torri Lewis and Bailey Wilkes, the Lady Eagles can hold their own on the court.
MHEA made their return to Millington last Thursday night for the host Lady Trojans’ season opener. And the Lady Eagles took advantage of a lackluster second quarter from Millington to leave the William Osteen Gymansium with a 49-40 win.
“The home school teams have advantage to where they can practice year around and are together,” Millington Head Coach Bruce Marshall said. “They have played at least five, six or seven ballgames already. I thought our kids, especially after we scrimmaged Overton and played in the jamboree up in Covington, looked a lot more comfortable out there on the floor.
“Tonight with a little better execution at key points in the game,” he added, “we probably could have taken it down to the wire.”
The game appeared to be going that way in the first quarter with the score tied at 7-7. But the Lady Eagles outscored Millington 7-2 down the stretch of the opening period highlighted by a Lytle triple.
Lady Trojan forward Treasure Redding scored the bucket for Millington in that run. But Redding and fellow starters Erin Clark, Kendra Richarson and UT-Martin signee Tiara Caldwell had limited shots in the second quarter.
It wasn’t the MHEA defense. The quartet of Lady Trojans were on the bench because of foul trouble.
“There was a stretch there in the first half we couldn’t seem to get in sync offensively,” Marshall noted. “Defensively I really wasn’t upset with how we were playing. We were doing some things we hadn’t been doing like getting to help side and forcing baseline.
“We got into foul trouble that first half,” he continued. “We had some kids, Katie Dupree, Jhardi Walker, Glenda Garner that came in and gave us some really big minutes. But at one point there, a four minute stretch, I had four starters sitting over there with me.”
Walker scored four points in the second quarter that kept the Lady Trojans within striking distance. Dupree hit a long baseline jumper and Garner used her size and height to grab some rebounds.
MHEA used free throws from Wilkes to take a 31-20 advantage into the locker room at the half
“It just comes down to them being discplined enough,” Marshall noted. “We picked up some ticky tact fouls You’ve just got to be smart enough as long as they’ve been playing — just knowing what to go and get.”
The Lady Trojans seemed to play with more discipline in the second half and the starters stayed on the court. But it wasn’t enough to overcome Lytle’s 17-point night. And Wilkes went 12 of 17 from the foul line to score 19 points.
Caldwell and Richardson had 9 points each for the Lady Trojans. Marshall said although it goes in the record book as a 9-point loss, he saw signs of his squad heading in the right direction.
“There were a lot of positives I saw as for tonight,” he concluded. “Last year we would have started tucking our tails a little bit Tonight they fought to the final buzzer. We were still there but we were just a little bit too far down to catch up. I thought we got a lot better as a team tonight.”