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Huntland High School’s Lady Hornets basketball team hosted the Middle Tennessee Christian School Cougars Friday in what was an eerie night, highlighted by an unexpected visitor.
Huntland seemed to experience a little bit of Halloween in January, because the Cougars graced the floor donning their orange and white uniforms, and a basketball-loving bat visited the gym.
It wasn’t a celebrated holiday for the Lady Hornets, however, losing to the Lady Cougars 60-47.
The Lady Cougars set the tempo early, receiving great play out of their talented guards. At the first quarter’s end Huntland was behind by five points, trailing13-8.
Poor defensive execution against the Lady Cougars guards proved costly for the Lady Hornets. Offensively the Lady Hornets improved in the second quarter, but defensively sank deeper, giving up 18 points.
At the half the Lady Hornets were in a deep hole at 31-19.
Several times throughout the first half, the 10 players and three referees were accompanied on the floor by a small winged animal, a bat.
Not only did the curious creature soar above the action, often times near the stands full of people, but it also would fly into shooting lanes and occasionally hover just above the gym floor near players feet.
The bat also seemed to love the Hornets cheerleaders, which of course resulted in shrieking screams most only hear in teen horror flicks.
All attempts to capture the mammal were in dire vain.
As the second half began, the bat was hiding quietly in the rafters, but would make a triumphant return soon enough.
The Lady Hornets again struggled defensively in the third quarter, giving up 16 points while scoring just 12 points.
During the third quarter the game was stopped twice with the bat making its return.
Huntland’s Ali Golden would also lose a contact lens when she attempted a shot. The situation forced her to play the entire fourth quarter with vision predominantly from one eye.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Huntland freshman Tara Cates had the bat fly between here legs as she attempted to trap a Lady Cougar from advancing the ball past half court.
The Lady Hornets fourth quarter efforts were the team’s best of the night, outscoring the Lady Cougars 16-14.
Unfortunately it was a case of too little, too late for the Lady Hornets, who lost by a final score of 60-47.
After the game, Huntland coach Brandon Childers attributed the loss to missed shots and poor defense — not the distraction caused by the bat.
Huntland’s Lady Hornets struggled mightily from behind the three-point line, making just three of the team’s 23 attempts.
After scoring just two points the entire first half, Golden finished with a team leading 17-points. Huntland eighth grader Caylee McLennan also scored 17-points, while recording a double-double by nabbing 10 rebounds.
Lady Hornet Holly Wortman was just one-point shy of a double-double, recording nine points, and 10 rebounds.
Coach Childers was glad his players didn’t react too badly to the distracting bat that was in the air for most of the game, but agreed he was in unfamiliar territory.
“That’s a new one for me, definitely a first,” Childers responded when asked if he had ever seen a bat so athletically gifted.
The Lady Hornets will shift their attention from bats, to Eagles tonight at Eagleville.
In the two team’s previous meeting on Dec. 20, the Lady Hornets lost by just one-point, 52-51.
They will be looking to avenge that District 9-A loss tonight with action to tip-off at 6 p.m.