TUSCUMBIA — Mars Hill showed Friday night that it will be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s TimesDaily Classic girls tournament.
The Panthers jumped out to an early lead and never let up in pounding Wilson 55-28 at Deshler High School. Mars Hill (5-0) needs a win tonight against Muscle Shoals to advance to Monday’s semifinal round at North Alabama.
“We came out very focused tonight,” coach Ashley Rutledge said. “This is a different team than last year and the main difference is confidence. Our girls are more mature now and they play to win.”
Junior guard Tatyana Rutherford got the Panthers off to a quick start. Rutherford hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored the first eight points. Mars Hill led 15-9 after one period.
Wilson kept it close in the opening minutes of the second period as Ciarra Edwards scored five points to cut Mars Hill’s lead to 20-14. Mars Hill then went on an 11-0 run to end the half. Ann Marie Mitchell had five points, including a trey in the run that put the Panthers up 31-14 at halftime.
Addie Harrison scored six points early in the third period as Mars Hill extended its lead to 39-16 and cruised to the victory.
Rutherford finished with 15 points to lead Mars Hill. Edwards paced Wilson with nine points.
Mars Hill is looking to advance to the semifinals for the second straight year. The Panthers lost to Lauderdale County in the 2011 semifinals at UNA.
“We want to get back to the semifinals and go a little further,” Rutledge said. “Playing in the TimesDaily Classic and having a chance to play at UNA is a big deal for us. Our goal is to get to that championship game.”
n Deshler 67, Shoals Christian 38: Deshler put itself in position to play for a berth in the semifinals with a victory over Shoals Christian.
Jothani Dixon scored 17 points to help the Tigers (4-0) remain unbeaten. Deshler needs a victory over Central tonight to advance to the semifinals.
The Tigers struggled in the opening minutes and the score was tied at 4 midway through the first period. Deshler closed with period with a 9-0 run and led 13-4 after a steal and jumper by Christian Darnell.
Lacey Lindley hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second period to keep Shoals Christian close. But the Tigers used another 9-0 spurt late in the half to take a commanding 33-13 lead into halftime. Deshler was not threatened in the second half.
Nicole Shirley added 11 points for Deshler. Kyra Agnew led Shoals Christian (2-7) with 19 points.
n Wilson 40, Muscle Shoals 35: Wilson pulled ahead with a big third period and held off a late run by Muscle Shoals to defeat the Trojans.
The score was tied at 19 at halftime. Wilson then outscored the Trojans 13-6 in the third period to take a 32-25 lead.
Wilson led by 10 midway through the fourth period before Muscle Shoals rallied. The Trojans, playing their first game of the season, cut the lead to three at one point, but Kayla Gooch hit two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to seal the win for Wilson (2-7).
Edwards led Wilson with 18 points and Ashley Arreola added 12. Shana Sherrod paced Muscle Shoals with nine points.