By Maurice Patton
LYNNVILLE – Hailey Jones shook off an ankle injury and offset Richland scoring ace Jesse Jennings in the early going Thursday night, and her Summertown teammates picked up the defensive pace in the second half of a 57-44 road victory.
Jones scored 17 of her team-high 21 points in the opening half, despite going in and out of the game after spraining her left ankle in the first quarter of the non-district matchup.
“I was contesting a shot and came down on it wrong,” Jones said after the Lady Eagles – ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press Class A statewide poll – won their 14th straight outing and improved to 23-3 to conclude the regular season.
“She rolls her ankle and still scores 17 in the first half,” Summertown coach Catie Embrey said. “She just kept limping along.”
With Jones hampered and senior guard Kaley Campbell “not feeling well”, the visitors needed a spark as Richland (14-5) rallied from an 11-2 deficit behind Jennings.
Enter Karlie Campbell, who scored all 10 of her points in the second half – starting with a 3-pointer that tied the game at 35 midway through the third quarter and added another five points to help Summertown to a 47-37 lead by the end of the period.
“With Hailey hurt and Kaley not feeling well, they’re our ‘motor’,” Embrey said. “Karley gave us a big energy boost in the first half, and then we held them to 12 points in the second half. Jesse’s a great player, but we held her in the second half.”
Jennings scored in bunches – converting on three straight possessions in the opening quarter and on four of five possessions in the second period – to help keep the Lady Raiders close.
“With players like here, they’re going to get their points,” Jones said. “We need to work on our overall defense.”
Leading 32-28 at intermission, Richland got a 3-pointer from Jennings to open the second half and a pair of free throws with 1:40 remaining in the game – but nothing else, as she finished with a game-high 22 points.
“They really put the clamps on Jesse and Gracie (Braden, seven points),” coach Chad Hall said following the loss, his team’s first in 12 games. “They’re a lot deeper and a lot more experienced than we are. I’m not sure I had an idea what to expect, whether we were going to fight ‘em or watch ‘em. We threw our best punch, and they threw one back. I’m proud of the girls.
“(Jones) was fourth on our list of importance, and she had 17 in the first half, and then little Campbell. We weren’t counting on that.”
Both coaches expect the matchup in their regular-season finales to have an impact on their postseason. Seeded No. 1 in their respective district tournaments, Summertown will open 12-A tourney play on Feb. 18 against the Perry County/Collinwood winner, while Richland will play the Mt. Pleasant/Santa Fe winner in the 10-A tournament on Feb. 18 as well.
“It’s good to play in this kind of environment,” Embrey said. “This could be a substate-type game. It’s good to work on time management, late-game situations. That’s always a positive.”
“Maybe it’ll help us in the next three weeks,” Hall said.
Summertown girls 57, Richland 44
S 15 13 19 10 – 57
R 16 16 5 7 – 44
Summertown (57) – Kaley Campbell 9, Hailey Jones 21, Katie Burdette 6, Rylee Long 4, Karlie Campbell 10, Ansley Burleson 5, Reese Wilson 2
Richland (44) – Gracie Braden 7, Katie Garner 3, Jesse Jennings 22, Kristen Garner 5, Allie Garner 4, Shelby Higgins 3
3-pointers – Summertown 5 (Jones 3, Kr. Campbell, Burleson), Richland 6 (Ka. Garner, Jennings 3, Kr. Garner, Higgins)
Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports