Jamie Ashburn

Jamie Ashburn

Jamie Ashburn was the beneficiary of her teammates' generosity on Friday evening.

The junior guard made five 3-pointers, four of which came in the first quarter, as the Macon County High girls basketball team pulled away for a 71-51 victory over visiting York Institute at Nera White Gymnasium.

"We've put in new plays," Ashburn said. "I feel like we are flowing a lot better (offensively). At the beginning of the season, I feel like we were stagnant.

"We are cutting a lot more. We are getting ball movement and easier shots."

The Tigerettes captured a 50-45 victory at York Institute on Jan. 8.

Macon County (22-5 overall, 11-1 in District 8-AA) built an early lead on Friday but didn't pull away until the second half.

The Tigerettes led by just three points (28-25) at halftime.

"We're not used to Abby (Shoulders) being out of the game," Macon County head coach Larry White said. "We were having a hard time guarding (Lady Dragon point guard Haylee) Johnson. She's tough. She's a really good point guard, and (teammate) Harli Smith is the (real) deal.

"They possessed the ball a little better on the interior, and we didn't get that last rotation (defensively)."

Ashburn's four 3-pointers in the opening period all came via kick-out passes from teammates. That helped her squad out to a 21-10 lead.

"We work on it in practice," Ashburn said. "We knew we had to get other people shots.

"Keeley was getting doubled (against other teams), so we had to get other people shots. After the Upperman game (a 37-29 loss on Jan. 15), we worked on that a lot."

White added, "We kind of got on our post people. We quit kicking it out. No. 31 (Hannah Conatser) didn't leave Jamie after that. That opened some things up for us. Jamie making shots makes us so much better, and McKaylee Mix and Marah (King) both played well."

However, York Institute (10-12, 6-6) scored 15 of the game's next 20 points, pulling to within a point when Conatser made a 3-pointer with 1:14 remaining in the half.

"People are going to play you better when they see you two or three times," White said.

Ashburn added ,"The second time you play a team, they are going to adjust. I don't think we adjusted (in the first half). We knew we were going to have to come out and play better defense than in the first half."

King had an interior basket 12 seconds later, giving Macon County the 3-point lead at halftime.

King - a junior forward - produced a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Ashburn made her fifth 3-pointer to open the second-half scoring, starting a 13-2 run. King and Carter combined for eight points during that surge.

Then, at the third-quarter buzzer, Mix tipped a missed shot up and in and then made a 3-pointer 20 seconds into the final period, extending the lead to 53-36.

The Tigerettes shot 53 percent from the field and connected on 14 of 16 free-throw attempts.

The Lady Dragons shot 48 percent from the field. Johnson finished with a team-high 18 points, and Smith provided 12 points.

Ashburn made all seven of her field-goal attempts, resulting in 19 points. Carter also scored 19.

Macon County sophomore point guard Jalynn Gregory finished with 8 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals.

The Tigerettes played at DeKalb County on Tuesday, and with a win on Tuesday, they will host defending state champion Upperman on Thursday in an attempt to earn a share of the regular-season district championship.

Macon County girls 71, York Institute 51

YORK INSTITUTE (51) – Haylee Johnson 18, Harli Smith 12, Isabella Blevins 10, Mikaela Reagan 4, Carly Tipton 4, Hannah Conatser 3.

MACON COUNTY (71) – Jamie Ashburn 19, Keeley Carter 19, Marah King 12, Jalynn Gregory 8, McKaylee Mix 7, Abby Shoulders 4, Breia Crouch 2.

Half: 28-25, Macon County. Three-point goals: York Institute 2 (Conatser 1, Johnson 1), Macon County 7 (Ashburn 5, Gregory 1, Mix 1). Records: York Institute 10-12 overall, 6-6 in District 8-AA; Macon County 22-5, 11-1.