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Bulldawgs fall short in bid to topple first-place Belton 69-57

Cove Leader-Press

Despite another strong shooting performance by Copperas Cove junior Henry Sanchez, who finished with a team-high 19 points, the Bulldawgs could not contain Belton senior TJ Johnson and the Tigers as Johnson scored 34 of the Tigers’ 69 points in their 69-57 win over the Bulldawgs to maintain the top spot in District 12-6A.
A strong start by the Bulldawgs gave them a 17-15 lead after eight minutes of action, but the Tigers took control with a flurry of three-pointers by senior Trent West, senior Seth Morgan and the senior Johnson for a 31-25 lead with under three minutes to play in the half. 
The Tigers grew their lead to 10, 35-25, before a three by Cove sophomore Bryce Smith made it a seven-point contest, 35-28, at the halftime break. 
A three-pointer by Sanchez pulled the Dawgs withing four points to start the third quarter and another Sanchez three helped keep the Dawgs in striking distance, 42-34, after a putback by sophomore Trap Johnson along with two free throws and a three by TJ Johnson pushed Belton’s lead to 11, 42-31. 
A basket by Morgan and a powerful dunk by TJ Johnson boosted Belton’s momentum and grew the tigers’ lead to 12, 46-34, and that’s the margin the third quarter would end in with a 52-40 Belton lead.
Baskets by Cove’s Triplett, senior Maurice “Mo” Henry, and freshman Jordan Payne closed out the Bulldawsg’ scoring. A basket by TJ Johnson, 1 for 2 free throws by Trap Johnson and a three-pointer by senior Tyler Tingle accounted for Belton’s scoring.
The Tigers then showed why they’re in first place by opening the final quarter on a 12-3 run to push their lead to 21, 64-43.
A basket in the paint by TJ Johnson, and another three-pointer by Tingle opened the quarter for a 57-40 lead before a basket by Payne and a free throw by Sanchez made it a 57-43 score with 4:46 left. 
Belton answered with a two by junior EJ Fouts, a basket by West and the third-three of the half by Tingle for the 64-43 score.
A three-pointer by Cove senior Alexander Ellis was answered by a three by TJ Johnson and a basket by Morgan to give the Tigers their largest lead of the contest of 23 points, 69-46. 
With mostly backups in on both sides, the Bulldawgs finished with a 11-0 run with a basket by Ellis, steals for layups by Sanchez and newcomer junior Darius Davis, two more baskets by Davis and 1 for 2 free throws by newcomer sophomore Lavon Mancha.
Belton senior TJ Johnson also had a game-high nine rebounds and four blocks to go with his game-high 34 points to lead the Tigers. Tingle added nine points and three rebounds, followed by West (9 pts), Trap Johnson (8 points, 5 assts, five rebounds and three steals), Morgan (7 pts, 2 rebs, 2 assts), and Foutz (2 pts).
Sanchez finished with 19 points and three rebounds to lead the Bulldawgs. Triplett added nine points, four rebounds, four assists, a block, and a steal, followed by Henry (8 pts, 4 rebs, 2 blks), Davis (6 pts, reb, stl), Smith (5 pts, 2 assts, reb), Ellis (5 pts, reb) Payne (4 pts, reb, asst), and Mancha (1 pt).
The Tigers improve to 26-4 overall, 9-1 in District 12-6A and clinch a playoff berth while the Bulldawgs fall to 10-16 on the year and 2-8 in 12-6A and are officially eliminated from the playoffs.
The Bulldawgs host Bryan (4-6 in District 12-6A) while the Tigers host the Ellison Eagles (6-4).

Copperas Cove Leader Press

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