Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County Junior High point guard Cadence Carter releases a first-quarter jump shot in front of Hunter’s Jaci Lewis. Carter scored 9 points in the Tigerettes’ 36-33 win on Saturday afternoon.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County Junior High point guard Cadence Carter releases a first-quarter jump shot in front of Hunter’s Jaci Lewis. Carter scored 9 points in the Tigerettes’ 36-33 win on Saturday afternoon.

GALLATIN -- The Macon County Junior High girls basketball team was pushed around in the first half of Saturday afternoon's contest against Hunter Middle School.

In the second half, the Tigerettes pushed back.

Macon County overcame an 11-point, first-half deficit by rallying for a 36-33 victory in a Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association (TMSAA) Section 3-AAA Tournament quarterfinal contest played at Station Camp Middle School.

"It's a real good win," Tigerette head coach Mike Prock said. "They may be the second-best team we've played all year long."

Two layins by forward Allie Thompson accounted for the only offense that Macon County was able to muster over the first 10 minutes.

The Lady Buccaneers -- the No. 1 seeds from Area 12 -- built a 15-4 lead when McCall Moss put her own missed shot back up and in with 3:05 remaining in the half.

Baskets by Thompson and Macey Meador helped the Tigerettes pull back to within six points, but Kelsey Gilchrease's layin gave her squad an 8-point lead at halftime.

"They were more physical than we were, pushing us around and not letting us get into our offense," Prock said. "We had some fight about us in the second half. We started attacking the basket."

Macon County -- the No. 2 seed from Area 11 -- was forced to handle Hunter's full-court press.

"We worked on it (on Friday) in practice, not trying to get caught in the trap," Prock said. "We wanted to pass up to the middle of the court or throw long."

The Tigerettes dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Buccaneers by a 13-3 margin.

Much of Macon County's damage was done from the free-throw line, with Cadence Carter's jump shot and Karly Ramsey's 3-point play accounting for the only field goals by the Tigerettes in the third period.

Two of the Hunter starters -- guard Riley Messer and 5-foot-9 forward Riley Long -- picked up their fourth fouls in the third quarter.

Offensive rebounds by Thompson created additional scoring opportunities for her squad.

Thompson also had the responsibility of defending Long.

"She played really well," Prock said of Thompson. "We tried to cut (Long) off (from turning to the) baseline. We wanted to take away her bread and butter (move). She turned to the middle the first time she touched the ball, and we were okay with that."

Macon County took a 2-point lead into the final period, but made free throws by Gilchrease and Alex Gift briefly gave the lead back to the Lady Buccaneers.

However, seconds later, Carter penetrated and threw a kick-out pass to Meador on the left wing, and Meador sank the Tigerettes' only 3-pointer of the game with 4:46 remaining. That placed Macon County in front to stay.

"In the second half, they handled the pressure and made free throws," Prock said of Carter and Meador. "They were able to keep Allie and Dallas (Caldwell, the team's other starting forward) in the ballgame."

Baskets from Carter and Meador extended the lead to 29-24, and then, Thompson and Carter tossed in free throws over the next minute to create a 7-point margin.

Hunter pulled back to within 2 points twice over the final 30 seconds, but free throws from Carter and Meador helped the Tigerettes hold on.

With 2.4 seconds remaining, Hunter was forced to go the length of the court in an attempt to tie the game, but the Lady Buccaneers actually released a jump shot from inside the 3-point arc as time expired.

Meador scored a game-high 13 points, and Thompson and Carter provided 10 and 9 points, respectively.

Caldwell, Gift and Messer all fouled out, and both Long and Thompson finished with four fouls.

Long and Messer led Hunter (15-3) offensively with 7 and 6 points, respectively.

The Lady Buccaneers won the Area 12 Tournament, which consisted of seven Sumner County schools.

"We are tickled to death," Prock said. "We're just real pleased. It was a big win."

Macon County Junior High girls 36, Hunter 33

MACON COUNTY (36) – Macey Meador 13, Allie Thompson 10, Cadence Carter 9, Karly Ramsey 3, Dallas Caldwell 1.

HUNTER (33) – Riley Long 7, Riley Messer 6, Alex Gift 5, Kelsey Gilchrease 5, McCall Moss 5, Jaci Lewis 4, Savannah Walmer 1.

Half: 17-9, Hunter. Three-point goals: Macon County 1 (Meador 1), Hunter 3 (Messer 2, Moss 1). Records: Macon County 11-8, Hunter 15-3.