Shelby County girls top Montevallo

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – Both Shelby County and Montevallo are off to two of the strongest starts in girls basketball this year when it comes to the county, and on Monday, Dec. 4, they met on the hardwood for the first time this season.

Coming into the matchup, Shelby County sat undefeated at 3-0, while the Bulldogs were the No. 9 team in Class 3A with an overall record of 6-0.

With one team scheduled to come out of the game with their first loss of the season, each played with a different level of energy, but it was the Wildcats, who seemed a little more aggressive, specifically on the defensive end.

The defensive prowess by which Shelby County played with led to them holding on to that undefeated record as they went on to pick up a 61-51 win over the visitors.

“I was very impressed by Shelby County’s defense and aggressiveness,” Montevallo head coach Tena Niven said. “They came out ready to play.  We played terrible defense most of the night and got out rebounded.”

Both teams started out strong defensively in the first quarter as they combined for just 23 points, but it was Shelby County that got the upper hand at the end of the period as the Wildcats grabbed 13-10 advantage.

The Wildcats carried that momentum over into the second quarter as the offense started clicking and the defense didn’t let up. It led to Shelby County outscoring Montevallo 19-9 in the period to take a 13-point, 32-19 lead into the halftime break.

Shelby County eventually extended that lead to 24 points in the third quarter before the Bulldogs started clawing back into the game midway through the frame.

With 3:00 left in the final quarter, Montevallo had come back and trimmed the lead down to four points, but Shelby County regained its composure and hit two layups and two free throws to end the game on a 6-0 run and win by the final of 61-51.

One aspect of the game that really hurt the Bulldogs was the free throw line where they shot 12-27 in the game.

“You can’t play bad defense and shoot that bad from the line and win against a good team,” Niven said after the game. “And Shelby County is one of the better teams in the county this year.”

Skye Knighten-Lilly led Shelby County, now 4-0 this season, with 17 points in the game, while Nataley Whitner and Maggie West added 16 and 15 points, respectively. It was a strong performance from those three as they led the Wildcats to three double-figure scorers.

Montevallo also had three double-digit scorers as Lauryn Lilly had 16 points, Kayleon Lamar had 14 points and Alasha Reed had 12 points. The Bulldogs fell to 6-1 with the loss.