SPENCER, Tenn.–Hannah Phillips and Emily Webb pulled off the biggest illusion in recent District 6A history: making a 44-game district winning streak vanish into the cool Spencer air as they took down the Eaglettes 60-40 on their own turf.
The Eaglettes streak stretched back to 2013, and the Lady Warriors haven’t picked up a win against Van Buren County since 2012, so Tuesday night was not just another run-of-the-mill basketball game. It was a monumental moment for a team looking for every ounce of motivation it can get.
“Ending this streak is big for us,” Marion County head coach Randy Ellis said. “You just have to step up and play every night. These girls amaze me. They go and they and they go and I don’t think think they have any breath or another drop of sweat in them and they find that extra gear.”
The Lady Warriors tried to stomp on the gas early, but after almost getting to a double-digit margin, the Eaglettes closed down on defense and only trailed by two at the end of the first quarter.
“I thought we played really well defensively in that first half,” Eaglettes head coach Tyler Sapp said. “We were flying all over the place. We were getting turnovers, but we weren’t capitalizing. We weren’t getting any easy buckets. We could have led or been closer at halftime if we would have made some of those buckets. And we’ve got to get to the free throw line more. We shot four while they shot 19 in the first half. We were at 100% on the free throws we got to shoot.”
As the second quarter continued, a 2-point lead expanded to a double-digit margin going into the locker room, but Marion County was still struggling against a high-flying Van Buren County defense.
“Van Buren came out to play and they played hard,” Ellis said. “They showed up, and that what we expected playing here. They were getting threes, and a lot of times, it wasn’t bad defense. We were taking two steps back, and they were knocking down 25-footers. I challenged the girls at halftime. They came out open in the second half. Hannah Phillips hit two big threes to give us a little separation.”
Phillips would finish with 23 points on the night while Emily Webb was close behind with 19. Most of those points came in the second quarter, but the more critical scores would come in the second half.
“The ladies were good a relaxed,” Ellis said. “My girls never quit. They just stayed with it, especially Emily and Hannah. My guards Breanna Vinson and Ashton McGrew have limited our turnovers to a third of what they used to be. They control the floor, and it’s one of the biggest reasons we’re winning. Emily really stepped up tonight. I’m not sure if she even had a break, maybe a minute.”
The Warriors would pile on late, eventually stretching the margin to 20-points late in the fourth. For these two teams, though, a margin that big is not common and might not be telling of how the district will play out.
“I believe we’re the best two teams in the district,” Sapp said. “Lookout Valley is right there behind us. We’re going to see them more than the two times scheduled in the district, whether that be in the district or the region. We had a very long streak of district wins, and it’s going to happen, you;re going to lose a game here or there. Nobody wins them all, and I do not think they’re 20 points better than us, but that’s what the score was tonight, so we’ll take it and move on.”
The Eaglettes face off with the Lady Yellow Jackets Thursday in a makeup game from the past Friday while Marion County prepares to take on an in-county rival in Whitwell Friday night.
MCHS — 17 | 21 | 8 | 14 || 60
VBHS — 15 | 13 | 6 | 6 || 40
MCHS (60) — Hannah Phillips (23), Emily Webb (19), Amy Webb (8)
VBHS (40) — Mallory Christian (17), Lilly Fredericks (7), Hannah Sullivan (5)