The Commercial Appeal
Collier leads Bartlett to 4A quarterfinal win over Sevier Co.
MURFREESBORO − For Bartlett’s Mallory Collier, Tuesday’s lopsided win over Sevier County in the Class 4A quarterfinals was another step toward ending her high school career the way she has always hoped.
The North Carolina State signee helped lead the Panthers to a 57-37 victory at Murphy Center, keeping alive her goal to win a state championship.
Bartlett (32-7) finished in the sectionals in Collier’s junior season and in the regionals when she was a sophomore.
“I feel like a win like this definitely builds momentum; it gives me the mindset of one step forward, one step closer to bringing a gold ball home,” said Collier, a 6-foot-5 Miss Basketball finalist, who is the tallest player in the Class 4 bracket. “It’s definitely going to help our energy and make us work harder.”
The next step comes Friday when Bartlett meets Green Hill (18-16), a 55-45 winner over Clarksville in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal, in the semifinal.
With Collier in the middle along with freshman Faye Williams and sophomore Dacarra Ward, who are both 6-2, Bartlett shut down the Sevier County (26-7) offense. The Bearettes, whose tallest starter was 5-11 Hailey Williams, made only 14 field goals. They shot 28.6% from the field and 18.8% (3-of-16) from beyond the 3-point line.
Collier grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and had two blocks, which helped limit Sevier County to one or two shots on most possessions.
Without the ability to score consistently, Sevier County was never a threat. The closest the Bearettes came was late in the third quarter when they missed two 3-pointers, either of which would have closed the deficit to 10 points.
Collier said Bartlett never felt the game was in jeopardy.
“At this point, everybody’s good so, of course, somebody can obviously make a run at any time,” Collier said. “But we just always try to stick to what we’re doing and work on what we’re doing.”
With Memphis signee Raven Sims stepping up and scoring 14 points on 5of-8 field goal attempts, and Nevaeh Scott adding 12, Bartlett did not have to depend as heavily on Collier as it usually does. Collier scored eight points, four below her average.
Sevier County did not have a player reach double-figure scoring. Natali Schultz led the Bearettes with nine points.
Collier said she was locked in on defense and Bartlett coach Wesley Shappley said when that happens it’s usually bad news for the Panthers’ opponents.
“Our opponents most definitely focus on stopping Mallory and that’s what makes everybody else so hard to guard,” Shappley said. “You have to focus on Mallory because if you don’t these kids are good enough and have enough basketball IQ and they know what they’re doing enough to get her the basketball. Most of the time you get two and three people guarding her.”
Bartlett also used its size advantage to force Sevier County into 17 turnovers.
“We really had only a day and a half to try to prepare for their size and we couldn’t really simulate it,” Sevier County coach Jonathan Shultz said. “They’re by far the biggest team we’ve seen all year. We’ve played some really good teams, but they had more length than any other team and you can’t really simulate it if you don’t have it yourself and you haven’t played it yet,”
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @Mikeorganwriter.