By Brian Paglia
As Tandrea High trotted to the Mundy's Mill bench with 2:42 left in the Lady Tigers' game, fans rose from their seats and an applause spread throughout the stands. High's night was done and Mundy's Mill's mission was accomplished.
High put forth another MVP performance at the Eagle's Landing Christian Christmas Hooptacular, leading Mundy's Mill to its second straight championship in the tournament. She earned MVP honors for the second straight year with a game-high 26 points in Mundy's Mill's 66-44 victory over Union Grove in the championship game Tuesday night.
"One time they can say it's luck, but the second time it's got to be talent," Mundy's Mill coach Lonnie Farmer said.
Mundy's Mill (11-3) indeed proved too talented for the Lady Wolverines to handle. The Lady Tigers were too quick, out-running Union Grove (6-4) in transition repeatedly, and dominated on the boards, earning several second chance opportunities on the offensive end.
High was nearly unstoppable, but Mundy's Mill also got contributions from the usual suspects. Sophomore Brianna McQueen scored 13 points, and senior Bryonne Ballard scored all of her 10 points in the first half. Tierra Newell led Union Grove with 13 and Corinne White added 11.
After a sluggish first quarter, Mundy's Mill began to assert its up-tempo style. Behind a man-to-man defense, the Lady Tigers forced Union Grove into errant shots and prevented any easy penetration. Nothing went right for the Lady Wolverines. They scored just five points in the second quarter.
And any rebounds or forced turnovers by Mundy's Mill were thrust down the court for a transition basket, and High was often the finisher. She scored six straight points to begin the quarter on a backdoor layup in transition and two coast-to-coast layups.
When the quarter began, Mundy's Mill led by four. When it ended, the Lady Tigers had a 38-16 lead and control of the championship game.
"I told them at the beginning of the game in order to win this game we needed to put pressure on them on the offensive end and the defensive end," Farmer said. "That meant we were going to play a little bit more man-to-man, get in (Union Grove's) face a little more, and then offensively we were looking to fast-break a lot more. Make them have to get back on defense and stop us and make us make some adjustments."
Woodland boys 62, Whitewater 34
Wolfpack coach David Bice knew Whitewater had played an overtime game Monday night and endured another trip back from Fayette County before their meeting Tuesday night.
So Bice strategized accordingly and Woodland thoroughly overwhelmed the Wildcats oon the defensive end to claim third place in the boys bracket of the ELCA Christmas Hooptacular tournament.
Darius Tookes led Woodland (7-4) with 20 points and was named to the boys All-Tournament team. Elliot Davis added 14 points.
"We had the idea that we could pressure (Whitewater) and it worked," Bice said. "To be honest, we played pretty good defensively at times (Tuesday). And it's a bonus when you shoot the basketball well."