By Phil Albert
Special to The Daily
Henry County squeaks by Morrow, 53-51, in first-round girls action in the Chuck Miller Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament Friday night while Dutchtown's comeback effort fell short in a 99-87 loss to McIntosh in boys action.
Despite the 25-point effort of Chatil Bradford, including 18 points in the second half, Morrow fell to 3-5 on the season with a hard-fought loss to the host Lady Hawks.
Briana Williams led Henry with 16 points and Tisha Taylor added 11 as the Lady Hawks advance to the holiday tournament semifinals Monday evening against McIntosh.
It was the rebounding by host Henry that was key to the victory. The Lady Hawks ended with 57 rebounds on the evening, led by Kylaine Rogers with 15 and Tiana Taylor with 13. The rebounding negated a sloppy evening as Henry finished with a season-high 31 turnovers.
"It really wasn't a good game for us," coach Carl Caputa said despite the team's fifth win in six games this season. "Morrow outaggressived us, if that's a word. It was the most turnovers we've had in two years. The rebounding saved us."
Henry led by 11 entering the final quarter, 40-29, but Morrow's aggressive defense and Bradford's free throws down the stretch allowed Morrow to cut the margin to three, 53-50.
Latoya Bleach was fouled with just .8 seconds remaining while attempting a three-point shot. She hit the first free throw, barely missed the second and purposely missed the third, hoping for a rebound bucket. Coincidentally, Bradford rebounded, but her desperation shot fell short at the buzzer.
Free throw shooting continues to plague the Lady Mustangs, hitting only 7-of-19 on the evening. Bradford was 6-of-14.
Bleach finished with nine points for Morrow.
Morrow plays Ola in losers' bracket action Monday at 1 p.m., while Henry County plays McIntosh at 7 p.m. in the semifinals.
Despite being down by as many as 27 points in the second quarter, the Dutchtown boys fought back to within 11 points in their 99-87 loss to McIntosh.
The Bulldogs had problems with McIntosh guard Josh Ball and forward Chris Longoria. Ball finished with 34 points, including 28 in the first half, while Longoria added 29 points. Jay Manning added 19 for the Chiefs.
Alphonzo Reid had a superb night in defeat for Dutchtown, finishing with 28 points, including 18 in the first half. Derrick Brown finished with 22 points, 17 coming in the second half. Travis May contributed 13 and Avery Lynch contributed 11, eight coming in the first quarter.
McIntosh led 54-27 midway in the second quarter before Dutchtown ended the first half on a 12-2 run, cutting the margin to 56-39. Reid had three 3-point field goals in the stretch.
Dutchtown came out hot in the second half with a more aggressive running attack and cut the deficit to 78-67 after three quarters.
"We played harder in the second half," coach Bernard Farrell said after the team's seventh loss in nine attempts this season. "We weren't getting the efforts from our starters in the first half, but they came off the bench and led our late surge. We just couldn't get the score within single digits."
"It's not our offense that's the issue, it's our defense," the coach added. "We're giving up too many points."
Dutchtown plays Ola at 11:30 a.m. on Monday in a losers' bracket contest.
The tournament continues Saturday with more first-round games.
In girls' action, Eagle's Landing plays Worth County at 4 p.m. and Dutchtown plays Jackson at 7 p.m.
Boys' action contests include Eagle's Landing against Worth County at 5:30 p.m. and Henry County hosts Jackson at 8:30 p.m.