Montana Moats

Sophomore Montana Moats has emerged as a solid player for Model's girls in the early part of the season. / File-Steven Eckhoff

Early struggles in the Lady Blue Devils’ game against North Murray last week at the Northwest Whitfield Border Wars Thanksgiving Tournament hampered Model guard Montana Moats.

The sophomore had just two points in the first period and caught the attention of head coach Sally Echols before the team even left Shannon earlier that Wednesday.

“She shot terrible in our shootaround before we got on the bus, like to the point where I was fussing at her,” Echols said. “She missed her first two free throws of the game, and I was like, ‘I’m about to yank her because she’s just not focused.’”

But then Moats racked up 19 points in the second period while hitting five 3-pointers. By the end of the contest she had scored 44 points and sparked Model’s 77-60 come-from-behind win. She finished with eight 3’s.

Echols said the team wasn’t forcing the ball into Moats’ hands, but it was simply how their game plan panned out.

“It was just part of our natural offense, and that’s what made it so fun,” Echols said. “She wasn’t dominating, which sounds crazy because she had 44 points, but it was just the natural flow of our offense. The game came to her.”

Senior forward Megan Kent finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the game, while Madison Harper had six points and eight rebounds.

After searching as far back as the school’s record books go, Echols said Moats’ final tally appears to be a new mark for the most points scored in a single game by a Lady Blue Devil.

“It was great,” Moats said. “No one has ever done it, so I felt like I accomplished something. It just felt like a normal game.”

Moats’ performance on the court has helped the Lady Blue Devils to a 2-2 record so far this season. She didn’t see much playing time as a freshman but, after her scoring 23 points in Model’s season opener and making a big splash last Wednesday, Echols admits she is making her way up the ranks.

“She is a kid who it’s fun to see her reap the rewards, because she’s definitely put in the time,” Echols said. “She’s just a hungry kid. She just loves the game, so it’s fun to see that pay off for her. I think that she will grow into a much more crucial role in our team.”

Model played three games in the Northwest Whitfield tournament, losing 68-43 to Cleveland (Tennessee), before winning two straight against Baylor (Tennessee) — 56-54 — and North Murray.

The team’s progress so far has been encouraging for Echols, who hopes getting some tough games out of the way will help them later in the season.

“We’ve been tested out of the gate,” Echols said. “We haven’t played anyone in our classification yet. We’re learning each other and learning some new things. The hope is that you’re tested in order to be better later, so we’re hoping we’ll see these trials pay off in the future.”

The Lady Devils will open Region 7-AA play Friday at home when they face Dade County.