Tharptown girls rally in 2nd half

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
VINA – The first half of Thursday's game between Tharptown and Hackleburg was largely the Hope Hudson show, but the second half belonged to Hollie Hines and the Lady Wildcats.
Hines scored 24 of her game-high 30 points after halftime as Tharptown rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a 61-49 win over the eighth-ranked Lady Panthers in the semifinals of the Vina Christmas Invitational.
"This was a big win for our girls and for their psyche," said head coach Chad Green, whose Lady Wildcats (8-7) will face Vina in today's championship game at 4 p.m. "Beating the No. 8 team in the state should really help their confidence. Hackleburg has some good shooters. They're a quality team."
First and foremost amongst those shooters is Hudson, who drained four three-pointers and scored 16 points in the first half as Hackleburg built a 31-21 lead.
Hines had just six points in the first half before erupting for 15 in the first five minutes of the third quarter as Tharptown surged in front with a 17-4 run.
Each of Hines' six baskets in the third quarter came from the same spot, as she repeatedly beat the Lady Panthers down the floor and got position on the right block.
"Hollie was able to out-run the defense down the court and get some easy baskets," Green said. "When they did run with her, she was still physical enough and strong enough to get position and get off a good shot."
Hines had played virtually the entire season at shooting guard before Green moved her to the post three games ago.
"She wasn't hitting much from the outside, so we thought we would try her out at the four (power forward) position," Green said. "She's strong, physical and fast, and she's a tough matchup down there. So far, the move has worked out really well for our whole team."
A three-point play by Hines gave the Lady Wildcats a 40-35 lead with 3:36 left in the third quarter, and the lead grew to 48-38 on a three-pointer by Laken Barnett early in the fourth.
Hackleburg later trimmed the lead to six, but a steal and layup by Chelsey McCluskey with 1:30 remaining sealed the deal for Tharptown.
Hudson finished with 25 points, but she made just one three-pointer in the second half.
"That's one of the first things we talked about at halftime," Green said. "She really hurt us with those threes in the first half. We put Lindsey [McCluskey] on her in the second half, and I thought she did a really good job of staying with her."
Overall, Tharptown held Hackleburg to just 18 points in the second half.
"The last two games, we've played defense and rebounded as well as we have in a long time," Green said. "Our girls have really been getting after it, hustling and getting on the floor for loose balls. The whole team has been doing that."
Jessica Myrick spearheaded the defensive effort with several blocked shots in the second half. She also finished with 10 points, and Barnett added eight.
Cindy Kivette had 15 points for Hackleburg.
In other action on Thursday:
Varsity boys
Hackleburg 63 Tharptown 55
Hackleburg overcame hot first-half shooting by Tharptown to defeat the Wildcats in the semifinals of the Vina Christmas Invitational.
Trevor Hallmark and Devin Lawson each made three three-pointers early in the first half as Tharptown jumped out to a 27-13 lead.
Hackleburg began to rally behind the hot hand of Aaron Bishop, whose back-to-back threes late in the second quarter got the Panthers within five at 29-24.
Tharptown led 32-28 at the half behind 15 points from Hallmark.
Bishop made two more treys early in the second half, but Tharptown's Tyler Cagle and Mackinley Flannagin combined for 13 points in the third quarter as the Wildcats clung to a 45-42 lead.
The Panthers started the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run, capped off by Bishop's fifth and final three of the night that made it 54-47 with five minutes remaining.
Cagle and Hallmark each finished with 17 points to lead Tharptown, and Lawson added 11.
Bishop led all scorers with 25 points, and Derek Sweeney added 11 for Hackleburg.
The Panthers made 10 three-pointers on the night, while Tharptown had seven.
Hackleburg advanced to face Vina in today's championship game at 5:30 p.m.
Tharptown will play Brilliant in a consolation game at 2:30 p.m.

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