Cove girls start 2nd round with tough loss to Belton 58-52
By TJ MAXWELL
Second-chance opportunities and cold-shooting cost the Lady Dawgs in their 58-52 loss to the Belton Lady Tigers Tuesday at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
“Coach Gomez does a great job over there with the Lady Tigers,” said Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams. “Coming in I knew we were going to have to play. Every night in this district you have to play. Records and that stuff doesn’t matter.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and I just had a funny vibe that we weren’t going to be ready to play and it showed. They out-rebounded us and they outhustled us.”
Leading 27-25 after a back and forth first half, the Lady Tigers began to exert their will in the paint to take control of the momentum.
A traditional three-point play by Belton senior Keilee Burke snatched back the lead for Belton on the opening possession of the second half and a 2 for 2 trip to the free throw line by Burke upped their lead to three, 30-27.
A three-pointer from beyond the arc by Cove junior Madison Griffon knotted the game at 30-all and buckets by sophomore Leah Powell and Griffon gave Cove a 34-30 advantage.
The Lady Tigers regained the lead with offensive rebounds on the next four trips down court that resulted in baskets for a 38-34 Belton lead with just under three minutes to play in the third.
A bucket by junior Alex Brito pulled Cove within a score before a trey by junior Risha Rice made it a five-point Belton lead, 41-36, with 1:46 left in the quarter.
A basket by junior Jayda Carter and a free throw by senior Destiny Miller pulled the Lady Dawgs within a score, 51-49, heading into the final frame.
Attempts to crawl back into the game by the Lady Dawgs were answered by the Lady Tigers in the fourth.
A basket by sophomore Natasha Blizzard and a free throw by Rice gave Belton a 45-39 lead but a free throw by Griffon and a steal for a layup by senior Erica Powell brought Cove back within three, 45-42.
A putback by junior Presley York pushed the Belton lead back to five before a three-point play by York and pair of free throws by Burke gave the Lady Tigers their largest lead of the night, 56-48, with 2:07 left in the contest.
A bucket by Griffon and 1 for 2 free throws by sophomore Kaysha McCloud pulled the Lady Dawgs within two scores, 56-51, but that was as close as they would get.
Free throws by York and Burke closed out the contest 58-52.
“I told the girls, ‘mentally they beat us,’” said McAdams. “We’ve got it physically, but mentally we weren’t ready to play and that happens in this district. You’ve got to be ready every night and I felt we weren’t ready mentally. It was like we thought they were going to come in and hand it to us but they didn’t.”
Neither team could take the early advantage until a putback by junior Nia Williams and a three-pointer by senior Taylin Wesley made it an 11-6 Belton lead.
A floater by Griffon and a bucket by McCloud pulled Cove within a score but a traditional three-point play by Williams closed the first quarter for a 15-10 Belton lead.
A 13-2 run by the Lady Dawgs flipped the lead for a 23-17 Cove lead with 4:35 left in the half.
Three-pointers by Carter and Griffon kicked off the run and a trey off glass by Carter gave Cove a 19-15 lead.
A 1 for 2 trip to the charity stripe and a three-pointer by Leah Powell closed out the run.
A pair of free throws and a putback by Burke and a bucket by Blizzard knotted the game at 23-all before another Burke bucket gave the lead back to Belton, 25-23.
Cove regained the lead on buckets by McCloud and Erica Powell to close the half, 27-25.
Griffon lead all scorers in the loss with 17 in the loss for Cove. McCloud added 12 points and six rebounds followed by Erica Powell (8 pts, 7 reb), Carter (8 pts and Leah Powell (6 pts, 6 reb).
Burke led the Lady Tigers with 17 points and six rebounds while Blizzard added 15 points and eight rebounds followed by Williams (7 pts) and Wesley (5 pts).
The Lady Dawgs (22-6, 6-2 in District 8-6A action) have a tough road test tonight at no. 19 Waco Midway.
“We’ve got to regroup,” said McAdams. “The good thing about it is we are still in control of our own destiny. We’ve just got to rebound. We have a big game on Friday when we head up to Waco Midway. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get ready to roll.”