Lady Hornets hit 34 free throws to edge Raiderettes in District Championship

the 2022-23 Moore County Raiderettes
The 2022-23 Raiderettes settled for District 9A runners up on Friday with a 62-54 loss to Huntland. They host Collinwood on Friday in the Regional Quarterfinal game. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

By TABITHA EVANS MOORE | Editor & Publisher

CORNERSVILLE, Tenn. — It seems to always come down to this — the Raiderettes and the Lady Hornets in the District 9A Championship game. On Friday, the Lady Hornets hit 34 from the free throw line against Moore County to lift themselves to a 62-54 win and the District 9A title. For this season, Moore County would need to settle for runner up.

The two teams traded wins in the regular season. On January 10, the Raiderettes lost in Lynchburg by a final score of 46-39. Then, just 17 days later, the Raiderettes traveled to Huntland and won in dramatic fashion. In that game, and down by two points, Maecy Fletcher made a drop-back, football-style pass down court to Ellie Graham, who got the ball behind the perimeter line and was absolutely mauled. Multiple whistles rang out. With no time left on the game clock, Graham headed to the line for not one, not two, but three free throws. She made all three to give Moore County the 38-37 victory. {Click here to read our coverage of that game.}

Raiderettes shots would not fall in the first half

With the Moore County students section now joined by the Fayetteville Tigers student section yelling defense, defense, the Lady Hornets got on the board first with a pair of free throws from Logan McLennon. They would foreshadow a thread that pulled through all four quarters. Huntland scored four from the line in the first, six from the line in the second, 10 from the line in the third, and 14 from the line in the final period.

Moore County turned the ball over on their first possession, then McLennon drove down and made a reverse layup to give Huntland a quick 4-0 lead – prompting a timeout from the Moore County bench. Moore County missed a trey on their next possession, then Maecy Fletcher feet-planted, arms-straight-up defended a McLennon shot to get the ball back.

A possession later, Ellie Graham stole a pass and drove untouched for the layup to give the Raiderettes their first points of the night at the 5:44 mark. Moore County then got the turnover and attempted their third unsuccessful trey of the first period. Moore County perimeter shots just would not fall. That wasn’t the case for Huntland. Ashtyn Danley drained the Lady Hornets first 3-point shot on their next possession and McLennon added another one possession later to make it Huntland 10, Moore County 2 with four minutes left in the first.

At around the three minute mark, a determined Katie Fletcher decided to dribble around the Lady Hornet defense for a layup and Moore County’s second basket of the night. Paisley Logan did a beautiful job of selling the charge on the next Huntland possession to give Moore County back the ball then Katy Fletcher drew the foul on her next shot. She hit both to cut the lead to four. It would be Moore County’s last points of the first period. At the end of the first, they trailed Huntland, 14-6.

The two teams paced each other in the second period though six of Huntland’s 11 second period points came from the line while Moore County used buckets by Makenzie Goodwin and Ellie Graham and treys by Graham and Audrey Harder to keep up. The halftime score was Moore County 17, Huntland 25.

Aggressive, emotional second half

You could feel the temperature rising between the two rivals at the end of the second period. That accelerated in the second half.

Huntland switched to man defense early in the third. Interestingly, the Raiderettes – who sat in a two, three zone – drew more fouls. The Lady Hornets scored 10 of their 17 third period points from the line. Adding to the ever-mounting foul trouble was the fact that Moore County kept settling for perimeter shots that just would not fall. Moore County’s Maecy Fletcher scored their lone basket of the third period at the 3:42 mark as a frustrated Coach Spencer paced the sidelines. At the end of the third, the Raiderettes trailed by 22, 42-20.

It’s not often that a team can score 34 point in the final period and not win the game – especially not in a high school girls’ basketball game – but that’s exactly what happened on Friday.

Madison Dingler drained a three and got the and one shot to get the run started. Dingler and Ellie Graham both showed leadership in the final quarter. Graham scored 16 of her 23 points in the fourth and Dingler scored 10 of her 11 in the fourth quarter.

Moore County also switched to man defense to apply pressure. With six minutes to play, a frustrated Huntland player mouthed at an official after Madison Dingler and Maecy Fletcher successfully defended her shot – drawing the technical foul. That created an eruption from Huntland Coach Edmonds, who’d already received a coach’s warning in the second. Graham made both shots to pull Moore County within 16, 46-30, with 5:48 to play. Then the Lady Hornets sent her back to the line on the next play. She made both to cut the lead to 14.

Moore County also seemed to find its inside game in the fourth. Rather than settling for perimeter plays, they drove in for points – either at the basket or at the line. Graham made 10 fourth quarter free throws and Dingler hit another three.

Around the four minute mark, Dingler got the steal and the layup for two points. Following a Lady Hornet turnover, Graham went to the line and made two more. Graham also got her fourth foul and headed to the bench with over three minutes left to play.

Once back in the game, Graham and Maecy Fletcher worked the inside on the next play to earn Fletcher a basket to cut the lead to 11. Fletcher reached in and fouled out on the next play. Her sister, Katie, fouled out in the third. Moore County now needed to score quickly while missing two of their starters. The Raiderettes other sister act, Anna and Audrey Harder, stepped up to replace them.

Ellie Graham drove for two and drew the foul on the next play. Her shots from the line cut the lead to single digits with 2:18 to play. They would get as close as seven when Madison Dingler stole a pass and dished to Graham for a reverse layup. Paisley Logan scored Moore County’s final points of the game.

Ellie Graham led for Moore County with 23 points followed by Madison Dingler with 11. Other contributing Raiderettes were Maecy Fletcher (6), Katy Fletcher (5), Paisley Logan (4), Audrey Harder (3), and Makenzie Goodwin (2). Logan McLennon led for Huntland with 26 points.

Ellie Graham, Madison Dingler, and Katie Fletcher were named to the All District 9A Tournament Team and Ellie Graham, Paisley Logan, and Madison Dingler were named to the District 9A All Season Team. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

Moore County scored 28 from the floor and just nine from the perimeter on Friday. They were 17 of 22 (77 percent) from the line. For comparison, the Lady Hornets scored 16 from the floor. That’s just eight buckets in a 62-point game. They shot about even with Moore County at the perimeter with just 12 points. They were a whopping 34 of 43 (80 percent) from the line.

Ellie Graham, Madison Dingler, and Katie Fletcher were named to the All District 9A Tournament Team and Ellie Graham, Paisley Logan, and Madison Dingler were named to the District 9A All Season Team.

The Raiderettes will now move on to the 2023 Class 1A West Regional Girls’ Basketball Tournament. They will host Collinwood on Friday in Lynchburg. {Click here for a complete bracket.} •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}

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