HARDIN VALLEY — To open the season, both Hardin Valley Academy varsity basketball teams put up a good fight early on against a school with powerful programs.
In fact, Jennifer Galloway’s Lady Hawks led the defending No. 3 finisher statewide last season, Oak Ridge, 14-8 after one quarter.
But the Lady Wildcats’ transition game took over big time, and ORHS walked away with a 62-42 victory at HVA Thursday night, Nov. 21.
Meanwhile, Shane Chambers’ Hawks played Oak Ridge even, 17-17, after a quarter before Wildcat forward Jeremy Miller (game-high 26 points) and post J. Millaway (20 points) led the way toward the visitors building a 24-point lead.
Though HVA the cut the deficit to 12, the Hawks lost 80-64.
“We had a great first quarter, it was good energy both ways,” Chambers said. “But in the second quarter they started getting a little more physical than we did, sort of got outside of our comfort zone. Sort of broke our back.
“I’m really proud of the effort we put in in the second half to cut it to within 12,” he added. “A lot of those guys (leading the way) were some of our younger guys, sophomores, making plays.
“I thought Tanner Grantham, our point guard, was sort of a catalyst for us,” the coach said about the junior, who led HVA with 14 points. “He hit some big shots there in the third quarter to get us back into it. He’s really a pesky defender and gets his hands on the ball.”
Other double digits Hawks were senior Jack Niezgoda (12 points) and sophomore Hudson Stokes (11).
Overall, “We did well half-court offensively, we did well half-court defensively,” Galloway said.
However, the transition game was “one thing that was exposed of us tonight, and that’s one of Oak Ridge’s strengths,” she added.
HVA leading scoring Malaka Grice, senior post, ended with 20.
“I felt like she showed her versatility … she’s learned to go both ways,” Galloway said. “She’s worked on extending her range a little bit, and I think she showed that.
“I was pleased how our point guard handled the different things thrown at her,” the coach said about senior Allie Sexton. “She led our team the way it needed to be led.”
Evelyn Hess, junior post, scored 11. “She’s provided some extra effort defensively,” Galloway said. “And offensively we were able to move the ball through her a little bit.”