By Kenneth Schott
MT. PLEASANT — After struggling from the perimeter early in its season opener, host Mt. Pleasant focused on driving to the basket and getting high-percentage shots.
The adjustment made the difference Thursday night, as the Tigers defeated Cornersville 49-33.
“We’re excited to get that first one under our belts, and get our first win,” Mt. Pleasant second-year coach Chris Carney said. “Next week we’ve got a couple of really good opponents.”
Mt. Pleasant went just 3-for-12 from the floor in the first quarter — hitting just one of its seven 3-point attempts.
Then senior guard Kentra Frierson began penetrating against the Bulldog defense, and Cornersville couldn’t stay with him. Frierson, who scored just two points in the opening period, finished with a game-high 20 points.
Tip Marlow, following suit, finished with 12 points — all over the final three quarters.
“We like to play fast and in transition, and Cornersville was guarding hard,” Carney said. “We had first-game jitters, we had some of those early. I thought we settled (for 3-point attempts) a little bit on the offensive end. Then we started working harder and started getting what we wanted.”
The drives to the basket helped the Tigers snap a 13-13 deadlock with eight unanswered points going into intermission.
Mt. Pleasant extended the lead with a strong run to start the second half. The Tigers outscored Cornersville 11-2 to start the third quarter, taking a commanding 32-15 lead, and led by 10-plus points the rest of the game.
“In their first game against Culleoka, they made 12 3s,” Carney said, referring to the Bulldogs’ 71-61 overtime loss Tuesday. “We wanted to find their shooters and make them uncomfortable. And a big part of our offense is getting stops on defense.”
Cornersville finished with just four 3-pointers Thursday, all in the first half. Eli Welch finished with 11 points and Michael Ashley 10 (three 3s) for the Bulldogs.
Lady Tigers dial long distance: Kielee Bradley and Emily Crossman combined for 34 points and six 3-pointers to lead Mt. Pleasant’s girls past Cornersville 49-43.
Bradley finished with 18 points, Crossman added 16, and the pair accounted for three treys each.
Mt. Pleasant gained a 23-18 second-quarter lead and built it to double digits in the third quarter. Every time Cornersville (0-2) scored a couple of unanswered baskets and threatened to cut into the lead, Bradley or Crossman would answer with a 3-pointer to give the hosts control of the game again.
“They gave us the confidence that we needed to go ahead,” Lady Tigers coach Amy Odom said.
Gracie Turner and Abbie Woodard had 14 points each to lead Cornersville.
Mt. Pleasant boys 49, Cornersville 33
C 6 7 6 14 — 33
M 7 14 18 10 — 49
Cornersville (33) – Eli Welch 11, Michael Ashley 10, Wallace Francis 6, Andrew Santini 3, Kaden Allen 2, David Metcalf 1
Mt Pleasant (49) – Kentra Frierson 20, Tip Marlow 12, Demarkus Brown 9, Keevan Cooper 3, Chris Andrews 3, Kyler Baker 2
3-pointers – Cornersville 4 (Ashley 3, Santini), Mt. Pleasant 3 (Marlow 2, Brown)
Mt. Pleasant girls 49, Cornersville 43
C 12 8 6 17 — 43
M 8 17 12 12 — 49
Cornersville (43) – Gracie Turner 14, Abbie Woodard 14, Jayli Childress 6, Annabelle Mulliniks 5, Meri Hannah Walker 3, Katie Powers 1
Mt. Pleasant (49) – Kielee Bradley 18, Emily Crossman 16, Baleigh Gray 8, Addison Workman 5, Kiyanna Armstrong 2
3-pointers – Cornersville 1 (Mulliniks), Mt. Pleasant 6 (Bradley 3, Crossman 3)