The battle of the big cats took center stage at the Tigers’ den Tuesday evening when the Camden County Wildcats came to Hinesville to take on the Bradwell Tigers. The teams battled it out and in the end, the Tigers proved stronger. The Lady Tigers won 53-41 and the Tiger squad downed their opponents 77-58.
The game between the girls teams started off sluggish with neither squad scoring until four minutes into the game. The Lady Tigers then took a six-point lead thanks to a couple of three-point shots from Mariah Maternik. They kept the lead due to steals by Maternik, Brytnii Speight, Quintunya Chapman and Mei-Sean Lee.
The Lady Wildcats added a few points and the Lady Tigers had 13 turnovers, allowing the Wildcats to close the half trailing by only four points (20-16).
The Lady Tigers took an eight-point lead in the third quarter, but Maternik got into foul trouble and sat out the remainder of the third and half of the fourth quarters. Without Maternik, the Wildcats tied the score at 24-24.
Coming off the bench, however, Chapman had two steals and hit a layup to nudge her team up by six again. The Lady Tigers earned a 53-41 win by sinking 20 points in the fourth quarter while the Wildcats earned only 10. The Tigers finished with 27 turnovers — an issue coach Faye Baker said they still need to fix.
"We are still dealing with the same problem," Baker said. "I was a little more pleased with our offense tonight but again 27 turnovers is entirely too many."
Baker said Maternik is their primary ball handler and it is noticeable when she has to sit the bench.
"When she has to come out of the game we look like an entirely different team and that is just the truth," she said. "We talked to our other guards about having to step up whenever Mariah is out of the game. We have to do a better job."
Baker said her squad did a better job at managing the clock and not allowing a comeback.
"I thought we did a better job in the fourth quarter," Baker said. "Our third quarter, we turned the ball over quite a few times, but our fourth was a lot better."
Speight’s return to the game after a slight hip injury last week also helped the Tigers. Speight sat out last week’s game against Johnson High.
"I was happy to see that," Baker said of Speight’s return. "Quintunya Chapman came in and just did a remarkable job. She gave us a lot of energy in the second half. She made quite a few steal, drives to the basketball and some key free throws and it really sparked us tonight."
Chapman scored 17 points, Seandre Lee hit 12 and Speight landed 10 for the night.
The girls improved to 13-3 overall and 6-1 in region 3-AAAAA, still tied with Camden at second place.
Lady Tigers 10 10 11 20-53
Lady Wildcats 4 12 15 10-41
Losing the tip-off didn’t deter the Tigers’ squad as D’Sean Brown made a quick steal and passed it to Derrick Nesbitt for two points. By the close of the first quarter, the boys led 14-7 and never looked back.
The Tigers’ sharp passes and strong defense held the Wildcats to 16 points for the first half while the Tiger boys ran up 34 points.
The Wildcats tried for a third-quarter comeback, scoring 21 points to the Tigers’ 9 but by the end of the third, the Tigers led by 16.
Nesbitt had 22 points for the night, and Jonathan Blair added 15 for the Tigers’ 19-point advantage and 77-58 win. The Tigers are ranked fourth in the region behind Groves, Johnson and Savannah.
The Tigers host Groves tonight at home. The two teams last met Dec. 6, when the boys lost but the girls won. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. for the girls and the boys’ game will follow. On Saturday, the Tigers host Brunswick for a non-region rematch at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.