SALTILLO – The Nettleton Lady Tigers led early but finally found their spark to pull away in the third quarter for a 53-41 win in the first game of the Saltillo Shootout last Monday.

“We came out Monday, early in the morning, and that’s the kind of games you have to come out ready for,” Nettleton coach Shane Hayles said. “I didn’t think we got interested in playing until halfway through the third quarter, but once we started digging in there, our alarm clock went off, and we decided we needed to start playing ball. We started playing a little better then. Hats off to Smithville because they were doing some things early that gave us a little trouble.”

The two teams were tied 11-11 at the end of the first quarter. Nettleton got a three-pointer from Annalyn Housley and baskets from Nakira Gillard, Miah Hall, Faith Collier and Madison Miller in the first. For Smithville, Chloe Summerford drained a pair of threes, and Hannah Ray had a trey as well while Carli Cole added a layup.

The Lady Tigers opened up as much of a lead as seven points in the second half before Emma Long hit a three to end the quarter and cut it to 24-19. Miller and Hall combined for five of the Lady Tigers’ 13 points in the second, while Gillard also hit a jumper. Tristin Price hit a three for Smithville in the second quarter.

Smithville’s leading scorer, Orlandria Smith, picked up three fouls early in the first half and had to sit for much of the second quarter.

“We were focusing on her and knowing where she was at on the floor at all times and not letting her penetrate,” Hayles said. “We didn’t want any of them to and were going to give up some shots early, and they hit some of those. That was one thing we talked about at halftime was making an adjustment out here. We came back out and were able to get after it defensively a little bit better.”

Hall came out and scored first in the third to stretch the lead back to seven, but Summerford answered her immediately. A free throw from Destiny Morrow cut it to four before Collier and Hall took over and combined to outscore Smithville 11-1 to end the quarter with a 37-23 Nettleton advantage.

Collier continued the hot hand and put in the first two baskets of the fourth to start to put the game out of reach. She had 14 of her game-high 18 points in the second half.

“They took Madison Miller out of her game a little bit, but we had Faith Collier come in and pick up a spot. She stepped up today and helped us out a huge bit,” Hayles said. “Miah Hall played solid, and Nakira Gillard did an excellent job defensively and had a few points around the bucket. I think that’s going to be the thing every game is that they will see how they can fit in. Some of them don’t know their roles or how they will fit in, and that’s the only way you’re going to get better is by playing games. They are working hard, and we are getting better every day.”

Smith came off the bench with her four fouls and scored nine points in the fourth for Smithville before fouling out, and Summerford and Price each hit a three late in the quarter.

Collier led all scorers with 18 points, and Hall chipped in 14 for Nettleton. Summerford led Smithville with 12 points, while Smith finished with 11 despite the foul trouble.

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