SMITHVILLE – The Hatley Tigers grabbed their first victory of the season in a tightly contested 57-55 win that went down to the wire against Smithville on Thursday night.
This victory not only marks the Tigers’ first win, but it is also the first win for first-year head coach Jake Smith.
“We’ve had a couple of close games with unfortunate situations that pushed us back, so to get our first win here against a rival is a good feeling,” Smith said. “I’m really proud of the growth that we’ve already started to show this season, and our willingness to compete through adversity.”
The Noles jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after multiple baskets from Brayden Rowland and Braylin Hill, but Hatley quickly took a one-point lead after making a run led by Tyler Dabbs and Cayson Williams.
Layups from Rowland and Ryan Christian gave Smithville 10-8 lead with 50 seconds left in the first. The Tigers tied the game up at 10-10 after Connor Powell and Dabbs each made a free throw.
Hatley tried to create some leeway from Smithville in the second quarter, taking a 14-10 lead after buckets from Williams and Dabbs, but the Noles tied things up baskets from Jordan Neese and Clay Tacker.
Powell and Williams gave the Tigers the boost they were looking for late in the quarter and made a run that extended their lead to 25-17. A three-pointer by Rowland put an end to the run and cut the lead down to five, but a free throw from Powell gave Hatley a 26-20 lead at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Smithville bounced back and tied the score at 31-31 after back-to-back layups from Neese and a mid-range shot by Hill. The two teams traded baskets towards the end of the third, and Hatley took a 37-34 lead going into the final quarter.
The Tigers extended their lead to 41-34 to start the fourth after a pair of free throws by Williams and a mid-range jump shot from Jaden Haro. With 4:18 left in the quarter, Hatley went up double digits on a three-pointer by Powell.
The momentum shifted towards Smithville after multiple baskets from O’Brian and a lay in by Hill cut Hatley’s lead down to seven with a minute left, but Powell’s layup, plus the foul, pushed the Tigers lead to 56-46.
With under a minute left, O’Brian and Tacker drilled back-to-back three-pointers, and Chandler Woodham banked in a three with 10 seconds left to cut Hatley’s lead down to 56-55. The Noles fouled Powell to stop the clock, and he made a free throw to give the Tigers a two-point lead with nine seconds left.
The Noles had a chance to tie the game up, but a turnover sealed the win for the Tigers.
Powell led the way in scoring for the Tigers with 21 points, while Williams finished with 19 points.
“Conner (Powell) had a phenomenal game,” Smith said. “He’s taken on that roll of point guard with Jaxon (Knight) out, and he’s thrived in it so far. I thought he took over at times and made plays out of nothing, and that’s something that we needed tonight. Cayson Williams has been struggling from the free-throw line recently, but tonight we made 10 free throws. All of our guys played well, and I hope this win can get us going. We get Jaxon back after Thanksgiving, so we’ll be ready to role when we get our team together.”
For Smithville, Hill and O’Brian both had 13 points on the night, and Neese tallied 11 points.
(G) Smithville 46, Hatley 41
A few clutch plays late in the fourth quarter gave the Smithville Lady Noles an edge to grab a 46-41 win in a back-and-forth affair.
“Every game that we play against them is always an intense, back-and-forth battle,” Smithville coach Brian McCollum said. “I thought both sides played with tremendous effort, and I felt fortunate that we made a couple of plays at the end of the game. Tristin (Price) had a rebound and putback that iced the game, and I never felt safe until she made that layup.”
The Lady Noles found their rhythm early in the first quarter as they took an 11-3 lead after baskets from Orlandria Smith, Chloe Summerford and Mary Haley Hood. Emma Rose Thompson and Chloe Wilbanks tried to turn the tides for the Lady Tigers with a couple of buckets, but Smithville ended the first quarter up 16-7 after a putback layup by Hood.
Hatley got some momentum going in the second quarter after back-to-back jumpers from Kenlee Wilkinson cut Smithville’s lead down to five. Layups by Gracie Dillard and a three-pointer from Madison Whitt tied the game up at 18-18 with 3:32 left in the quarter.
The Lady Tigers took their first lead of the game on a lay in by Dillard, and Wilkinson extended the lead with a basket, plus the foul. Summerford made a three-pointer at the buzzer to cut Hatley’s lead to 25-23 at halftime.
A steal and layup on a fast break by Smith tied the game at 27-27 halfway through the third quarter, and a pair of threes from Smith and Price helped the Lady Noles regain their lead.
Hatley trimmed the lead down to 33-32 going into the final quarter after buckets from Thompson and Lexi Miller.
The Lady Tigers made a run midway through the fourth led by Kenlee Wilkinson, Peyton Wilkinson and Kilie Edwards to take a 38-35 lead, but Summerford ended the run with a three-pointer to tie the game.
With three minutes left in the game, Summerford got fouled at the three-point line, and she drilled all three free throws to give the Lady Noles a 43-40 lead. Thompson came down the court and got fouled on a layup attempt, and she made a free throw to put the Lady Tigers within two points.
With the score now at 43-41 with a minute left, Price got the rebound after a missed shot and put it back up for a basket, plus the foul to ice Smithville's third win of the season.
Summerford finished the game with 19 points, and Smith, who also hit 1,500 career points in this game, tallied 13 points on the night.
“It seemed like every time that we went into a scoring funk, Chloe (Summerford) kept coming up with big shot after big shot,” McCollum said. “She hit that three at the buzzer going into the second half, and I thought that changed things for us going into the locker room. All fall, we’ve been talking about mental toughness, and I think we showed that tonight.”
For Hatley, Kenlee Wilkinson had 13 points, while Thompson added nine points.