Lady Bulldawg Basketball wins Bush’s Classic to improve to 7-0 on season
By TJ MAXWELL
The Lady Dawg basketball team is off to a hot start with a 7-0 record, including their 5-0 run for the championship crown at the Bush’s Chicken Classic Basketball tournament at Bulldawg Gymnasium this weekend.
After defeating Leander at home to open the season, the Lady Dawgs hosted the annual tournament where they swept their way to the tournament crown, culminating in Saturday’s 51-43 win over El Paso Bel Air.
“It feels great,” said junior guard Madison Griffon who was named to the all-tournament team. “That’s the mindset we came in with. We wanted to win on our home turf and keep playing hard.
“We’re feeling really good. We definitely feel like we have to play with a chip on our shoulders every game. We’re working much harder this year and it’s just fun to be around all these girls.”
In Saturday’s title game, the Lady Dawgs held off a third-quarter rally by the Lady Highlanders to come away with a 51-43 win and the Championship trophy.
Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams was excited for the tournament crown but just as excited to get in the extended action.
“We could be 0-7 so we are definitely excited about it but we’re not comfortable,” he said. “It was a good opportunity to play five games. Anytime you can go to a tournament and get five games is good. The more we play, the better we’re going to get.
“It was exciting to coach and to see the girls win.”
With Cove holding a 31-23 lead at the half, the Lady Highlanders shot out to a 12-2 run to begin the third quarter and knot the game at 35-all with 1:39 left in the quarter.
Consecutive plays by senior Erica Powell to end the third quarter and start the fourth quarter gave Cove the lead back for good and kick started a 16-8 run to close out the contest.
“I have to go after it every day,” said Powell. “Coach Mac tells me to push hard and go hard to the basket. That’s what I did. I get the rebounds and get it to the outlet and try to get a score.”
After the traditional three-point play by Powell to close the third and a layup on the assists from sophomore Madisen Honea made it a 40-35 game to start the fourth.
An offensive rebound and three-pointer by senior Mariyah Reynolds put Cove up 43-37 before free throws by Griffon and a putback by Powell made it 47-37 with 3:30 left to play in the period.
A trip to the foul line Bel Air’s Ashley Hernandez and a steal for a bucket by Hernandez cut the Cove lead to six, 47-41 before Cove closed the contest out from the charity stripe with free throws by Honea, Powell and Griffon for the 51-43 win.
The Lady Dawgs took a 9-2 lead to open the title game against the Lady Highlanders with 6 for 7 free throws by Honea, junior Jayda Carter and sophomore Kaysha McCloud before a driving bucket by Griffon.
A three-pointer by Bel Air’s Christine Ibanez and a bucket in the paint by Isabella Sedita cut the Cove lead to two, 9-7, before a traditional three-point play by Sonia Sato gave the Lady Highlanders the lead 10-9.
A driving play by Cove’s Powell and 1 for 2 free throws by Bel Air’s Sato knotted the game at 11-al with 1:13 left in the quarter.
Consecutive trips to the free throw line by Griffon, where she went 3 for 4, put Cove back out front 14-11 with 53 seconds left.
A bucket by Bel Air’s Hernandez made it a one-point contest after one, 14-13.
Hernandez hit both ends of a 1 and 1 to give the Lady Highlanders back the lead 15-14 to open the second quarter but a three-pointer off glass by Griffon and a steal by Griffon for a Reynolds’ layup made it a 19-15 Cove lead with 6:15 left.
A short jump shot by Hernandez again pulled Bel Air within a bucket before consecutive three-pointers by Griffon and senior Yaqar Elmore, a free thrown by Destiny Miller and a long two-pointer by Reynolds pushed the lead to 11, 28-17 with three minutes left in the half.
Putbacks by Bel Air’s Renee Haslett and Hernandez and a three-pointer by Cove’s Carter made it a 31-21, Cove lead before a bucket in the waning seconds by Bel Air’s Haslett made it a 31-23 half time lead for the Lady Dawgs.
Griffon had 19 points to lead the Lady Dawgs while Powell added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead the team. Reynolds added seven points while Carter and McCloud added four points each and Honea and Elmore added three each and Miller chipped in one.
The Lady Dawgs rotated fresh players in and out all night and it seemed to tire their opponents. Cove had eight players score in the win.
“That’s definitely good,” McAdams said about his teams’ depth. “We have the volleyball girls but they haven’t really had any practice. I let them play in the tournament and I was pleased how they adjusted on the fly. I think that’s going to work in our favor if we can stay positive, stay together as a unit and understand our roles.
“Sometimes when you have a lot of depth and talent, it’s hard to get them in but if they can stay positive and together I think we’ll be all right.”
The Lady Dawgs opened the tournament on Thursday with a 53-48 win over Austin Akins and a 61-50 win over Fort Bend Austin.
The Lady Dawgs stumbled a little in their early contest on Friday against Manor.
Tied 41-all with 5:59 left in the game, the Lady Dawgs took over with a 16-4 run to close the contest 57-45.
Powell and Honea led the Lady Dawgs with 14 points each in the win.
Powell again had a stellar night with 21 points in Friday night’s win over San Antonio Stevens to earn Cove a spot in the finals.
Both Griffon and Powell were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts in the tournament.
“It means a lot to me,” Powell said of the honor. “I put my heart on the court. This is my last year and I just love the game of basketball so I have to play every game like it’s my last.”
Griffon was humbled by the selection.
“It means a lot but I definitely wouldn’t have gotten it without my teammates,” she said. “It was all of us. It was hard for coach to pick and I don’t know how he did it but it is what it is.”
The Lady Dawgs will try to keep this train rolling when they travel to Marble Falls for more tournament action this weekend.
“We just need to keep the positivity that we have going right now and make sure we do what we’re supposed to do,” said Powell. Sometimes we don’t have that proper mindset and in the middle of a game, we have to come together and finish as a team.”
“We need to keep being coachable,” she said. “We’re doing really well in practice. We just need to keep doing what coach tells us to do and we’ll be good.”