Wildcats clinch playoff berth

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Thanks to four players in double figures, the Shelby County Wildcats were able to pick up an easy 59-36 win over the Moody Blue Devils in the first round of the area tournament at Briarwood Christian School on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Having battled the flu bug during the last two weeks of the regular season, the Wildcats looked to be back to full strength and it showed in the way they played on both sides of the floor, but specifically the balance by which they scored.

That balance was prevalent in the first quarter of action as three different players had at least four points, including six and seven points from two of the players.

Skye Knighten-Lilly led the way with seven points in the first eight minutes of the game, while Nataley Whitner posted six points in the quarter. They were accompanied by Maggie West with four points as all three of those players went on to end the game scoring in double figures.

On the defensive end of the floor it was a bit of a slower start for the Wildcats as they gave up 13 first-quarter points. Despite the nice start offensively for the Blue Devils, Shelby County was able to take a 19-13 lead at the end of the first period.

While the second quarter wasn’t as balanced on the offensive end of the floor, Aaliyah Cotton stepped up to burry three 3-pointers in the quarter to become the first Wildcat in double figures with 11 points.

Her nine points combined with two from Whitner and Madison Purcell gave Shelby County 13 in the period. The defense also got head coach Ashley Phillips’ message at the end of the first quarter and stepped up to limit Moody to just five points in the quarter.

Turning things around defensively led to the Wildcats extending their lead to 32-18 at the half.

Coming out of the locker room into the second half, the big three were able to step up for Shelby County yet again as Whitner, seven, West, six, and Knighten-Lilly, five, each had at least five points in the quarter.

The Wildcats were able to post 18 points in the quarter for their second largest period of the game and limited the Blue Devils to just 10 points as they extended their lead to an insurmountable 50-28 heading to the final quarter.

Shelby County was able to knock down five of its eight free throws in the fourth quarter to easily preserve the 23-point 59-36 win.

Whitner led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points, while Knighten-Lilly and West each added 13 points and Cotton added 11 points to give the team four in double digits.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com