Big Game Hunters

No. 19 Lady Dawgs cage No. 6 Pantherettes 42-39; improve to 2-2 in District 12-6A
Copperas Cove guard Keturah Taylor fumbled away the Lady Dawgs’ 26th turnover that allowed top-ranked Midway to take a 39-38 lead Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium. The senior more than made up for it.
“(Coach) was yelling at me, “KT you need to get that, and I was like, ‘yes sir,’” said Taylor. “She made that basket so I had to come back and make it up somehow. I had to shoot it, get a foul or something.”
Taylor scored just 10 points on the night but the final four points were some of the biggest points of her season.
Taylor nabbed a theft of her own and converted on a jumper from just inside the free throw line to give the Texas Girls Coaches Association No. 19 ranked Lady Dawgs a 40-39 lead over the Pantherettes, ranked No. 6 by the TGCA and No. 11 by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
“When she made that turnover I told her, ‘you better make up for it,’” said Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams. “She went down, got that steal and made the mid-range jumper.”
Taylor iced the game with a put back after fellow senior Alex Wilson wrangled a huge rebound on the defensive end that held Midway to just one attempt at taking the lead. Taylor then scored her second basket in 11 seconds to secure the 42-39 win on a put back of a Wilson miss as the Lady Dawg bench and Bulldawgs gymnasium erupted in cheer.
“We beat Midway. We beat Midway,” exclaimed Taylor as she described the feeling after the win. “Once I heard the buzzer go off I was jumping up and down and I ran back to my team. “(This win) is good for us because we took two (losses) at the beginning and started off bad so we just came back and fought hard like we needed to in the first two games.”
The win puts the Lady Dawgs (19-7, 2-2 in District 12-6A) right back in the conversation for a district title after giving Midway (20-4, 2-1) their fourth loss of the season and first in district play.
“It feels like we can beat anybody in district,” said Taylor. “Midway was beating people by 30 and 40. We just beat a team that everybody talked so high about and everybody thinks they’re going to win district. They might, but we have as good of chance to beat them as they have to beat us. That makes we feel like we can beat anybody.”
Senior post Daisha Hunter, who finished with a team-high 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way for the Lady Dawgs.
“Post play against Midway was really needed because our shots outside weren’t falling,” said Hunter. “So, we sometimes rely on our post play.”
That proved to be the difference in the game as Hunter and the Lady Dawgs hauled in 13 offensive rebounds and 25 defensive boards. Junior Chyanne Chapman added nine boards and five points from the post despite being in foul trouble most of the contest and Wilson chipped in 11 boards and five points from the guard position.
“(Daisha) definitely had a good game,” said McAdams. “Chyanne got in foul trouble early and that hurt a little bit but (Daisha) stepped up and took the reigns. Them two are inseparable. They’re always together in practice and they feed off each other in games so when Chyanne’s not in (Daisha) is down a little bit. Tonight, though, she stepped up and took Chyanne’s workload because she was in foul trouble and that’s what we needed.”
Defense was a huge contributor in the win as well. The Lady Dawgs held the Pantherettes to just 39 points in the contest, including two points in the first period and four in the final frame.
“We work hard on defense,” said Taylor. “That’s pretty much what we practice most. The defense was a big aspect in this game because we had to keep our post inside and our guards on the perimeter so they wouldn’t shoot and they couldn’t feed it down low.”
Hunter knows if you let up against a team like Midway, you likely will get blown out.
“Our defense is very important,” she said. “We can’t slack off. If we slacked off against Midway, we could have easily gotten beat by 30 or 40 points.”
Hunter knew her play would be vital with Chapman in foul trouble.
“I had to step up and show my team that I really can do this,” she said. “If I can get an offense rebound, it gives my team another chance to score so those are very important.”
The Lady Dawgs did have to withstand a third-quarter charge by the Pantherettes.
Leading 19-14 after two quarters, Midway’s Barbara Benson scored 12 of their 21 points in the quarter as part of a 21-11 run to take a 35-30 lead into the final period.
A timely three-pointer by Taylor brought Cove back within one to begin the final frame and a bucket in the paint by Hunter knotted the game at 35-all with 6:53 remaining.
After one of just two fourth-quarter buckets gave the Pantherettes a 37-35 lead on a put back by Marie Benson, the Lady Dawgs closed the game on an 8-2 run to secure the win. Trips to the charity stripe by Hunter, Taylor and Wilson, along with the two huge buckets by Taylor accounted for the run.
“Coming in we knew this was going to be a tough match,” said McAdams. “Midway is well-coached, they play hard and they play well. Our thing was, if we handled the pressure, take care of the basketball, play our defense and do things we were capable of doing then it would be a different game. I think we did that.”
The Lady Dawgs came in with some confidence after a 4-1 performance and silver bracket championship at the Aggieland Invitational of the Christmas break.
Taylor believes that confidence aided in the win.
“It gave us some confidence,” she said. “We were 1-2 in district when we went there. Going there and bringing back a trophy made us feel better about ourselves to come back and fight harder in district knowing that we can do better.”
That fight continues tonight at Harker Heights and McAdams knows his team can’t rest on their laurels.
“We’ve got to take it one game at a time,” he said. “We can enjoy this one today but we have Harker Heights on Friday. They have been playing some good ball and beaten some teams.
“We can’t just be satisfied with this one. It was definitely a good win for us but tomorrow we come in and get ready for Heights. That’s the mindset we have to have. In this district, anybody can beat anybody.”
Taylor agreed.
“We need to play every game like it’s the last one,” she said. We need to play for each other and play hard on the court. We definitely need to cut down turnovers and play together as a group.”
Freshman Madison Griffon chipped in four points and had a team-high three assists off the bench, senior Kaycie Gatewood added three points and junior Kayla McCloud added two.
Midway was led by Barbara Benson’s game-high 16 points and JaNaiya Davis’ 11 points.

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