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Saturday, March 2, 2024

NE Regional girls: 7A No. 5 Hewitt-Trussville dominates with defense in win over Grissom

No. 5 Hewitt-Trussville stormed out of the gates and never let up in a 64-22 victory over Grissom in Tuesday’s Class 7A Northeast Regional girls semifinal at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.

“Being here this year, everybody might think it but it’s not an easy task,” Hewitt-Trussville coach Tonya Hunter said. “It takes a lot of dedication from the kids and a lot of support from the administration to make sure we can do the things for the kids. This year we’re in the moment and trying just to enjoy it.”

Hewitt-Trussville (26-5) got off to a blistering start to open the first period, taking an 8-1 lead, and allowed only one made basket while closing out on a 10-0 run to take an 18-3 advantage. Grissom managed to score the initial basket of the second period but gave up an 11-0 run to the Huskies before scoring only its second bucket of the period with 1:19 remaining in the half.

Hewitt-Trussville answered inside the final 30 seconds to take a 31-7 lead into the halftime break.

“We took a look at our defensive numbers over the season, and we have a team that can communicate well defensively,” Hunter said. “They give everything they can for their defense.”

The Tigers had their best output of the game in the third period but were still outscored 20-13 as Hewitt-Trussville built a 51-20 advantage leading into the fourth. Grissom was 3-of-10 from the field, matching the amount of made baskets in the first half, and added seven points at the charity stripe.

Both teams opted for a running clock in the final period.

Grissom (12-13) had a single senior on its roster, along with two juniors, and was one of the youngest teams, experience-wise, to advance into the regional round. The Tigers started three freshmen and a sophomore in the game, along with senior Mary Ruth Minor. Two eighth-graders contributed with a combined 32 minutes of play.

“The youth of our team, we knew coming into the season it would have its pros and cons,” Grissom coach Natasha Williams said. “The pros were being so young that the future is bright. The cons are most of them are supposed to be playing junior varsity. I’ve taken a group of girls that are junior-varsity age and thrown them to the wolves. They’ll take this into next season, and you’ll see different showing out of Grissom.”

Did you know? Hewitt-Trussville advances to its fourth straight regional final appearance. Grissom has not reached a regional final since the 2017 season but made three state tournament appearances in 1988, 1992 and 1993.

By the numbers: Hewitt-Trussville shot 39.6 percent from the field, 35.3 percent on 3-pointers and held Grissom to 22.6 percent overall and 0-for-6 from range. The Huskies grabbed 19 steals on 27 turnovers, resulting in 31 points, and had 12 assists on 21 made field goals.

Stat sheet: Hewitt-Trussville – All nine players for the Huskies scored in the game with Jordan Hunter leading the way with a game-high 20 points and four rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Ryleigh Martin had 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals, followed by Sara Phillips finished with seven points, four steals and a game-high 11 rebounds. Kennedy Gill also had seven points and Mia Ada and Ashlyn Howard added six points each. Grissom – Madison Eddings produced a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, adding three blocks, and Madyson Grays and Sadie Sanderson each had four points while combining for six rebounds and three blocks.

Coachspeak: “I’ve been coaching for 24 years and had two teams that play defense like this and this is one of them. They’re tough-nosed and can make adjustments to whatever offense the other team is running. They make them without me telling them and that’s huge. We have a lot of maturity on this team.” — Hewitt-Trussville’s Tonya Hunter

“They (Hewitt-Trussville) came in with a lot of defensive pressure, which we’ve been used to all year, but we’re very young, extremely young. It’s a good thing that they got it now to better prepare them for the future.” — Grissom’s Natasha Williams

They said it: “I’ve been trying to find a balance between who we are and embracing the moment because I’ve been doing it for six years. Giving it all I have, it’s a hard balance but glad my last year is with them because I’ve been here five out of the six years and this is the best one so far.” — Jordan Hunter

“The biggest thing that’s helped us is practicing against the boys. They play hard and that makes us play tough. In that way, we don’t play down to our competition and we set our level.” — Sara Phillips

What’s next? Hewitt-Trussville advances to face either No. 2 Sparkman or No. 8 Chelsea in Tuesday’s Northeast Regional final at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.

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