Cold-shooting costs Lady Dawgs in 12-6A opener

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

Despite shooting 3 for 35 in the first half, the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs were in striking distance down the stretch of their 38-36 loss to the Belton Lady Tigers to open District 12-6A action Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
The Lady Dawgs just could not find the bottom of the net as they finished the night 11 for 69 from the field in the loss.
“In the first half, we went 3 for 35 from the field and you’re not going to win games like that,” said Copperas Cove head girls’ basketball coach Eldridge McAdams. “We just couldn’t get the ball to go. Hats off to Belton, but I think we did everything we could to give them the game. 
We missed a lot of birdies around the basket, especially in the latter part. We’re down two and we come down and, I think, we missed four or five uncontested layups. We didn’t really finish around the rim and you can’t win like that.”
Trailing 13-26 at the halftime break, the Lady Dawgs slowly began to chip away at the Lady Tigers’ lead, cutting their halftime deficit of 13 down to just eight points, 26-34, by the end of the third frame.
Cove senior Jayda Carter connected on a three-pointer to begin the period, one of just two made three-pointers on the night for the Lady Dawgs, to cut the Belton lead to 10, 26-16.
The Lady Tigers (10-2, 1-0 in District 12-6A) answered with consecutive baskets by senior guard Presley York and senior post Natasha Blizzard to take the largest lead of the night with a 30-16 score.
The Lady Dawgs (11-4, 0-1) responded with a 10-4 run to close the quarter and cut the Belton lead to eight, 34-26.
A free throw by Cove junior Madisen Honea kicked off the Cove run and a floater by Honea finished the run. A basket by junior Leah Powell on the assist by Honea, a three-pointer by Honea and a steal for a layup by sophomore AZ Knotts accounted for the rest of the Cove points in the run.
The Lady Dawgs then cut the Lady Tigers’ lead to just two, 34-32, with a 6-0 run to start the final frame but that is as close as they would get. 
“I felt like we started to play in the latter part of the game,” said McAdams. “We knew that time was winding down, so we turned up the energy and were doing things we should have been doing the whole time.”
An inbound play from Honea to junior Kaysha McCloud cut the lead to six before a baseline drive by senior Madison Griffon and a bucket by Carter made it a two-point with 5:52 to play.
Cove had an opportunity to knot the game from the free throw line but were unable to convert on a 1 and 1. 
York converted on 2 of 4 free throws on the other end for a 36-32 Belton lead with 45 seconds remaining. 
The Lady Dawgs converted 4 for 4 free throws in the final 27 seconds but the Lady Tigers managed 2 for 4 during that same stretch to secure the win. 
“I felt like they wanted this game more than us,” said McAdams. “They came in with energy, they were getting the 50/50 balls in the first half, they were hitting the boards and doing what coach Gomez has them do. 
“Anytime you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll get beat and that’s what happened.”
Neither team could take advantage early, battling to a 6-6 tie midway through the first period.
The Lady Tigers finished the quarter on an 11-2 run to take the 17-8 advantage into the second frame.
A layup by Belton junior post Jocelyn Brewer started the run before a three-pointer and a scoop by York, a basket by Blizzard, a putback by Brewer and a bucket by junior Taylin Wesley accounted for the Belton run.
A pair of free throws by Powell, a drive by Griffon, a putback by McCloud and a putback by senior Chyla Johnson accounted for Cove’s eight points in the frame.
The Lady Tigers increased their lead to 13 to begin the second quarter on a three-pointer and pair of free throws by York. 
A steal for a layup by Powell and a pair of free throws by McCloud cut the Belton lead back to single digits, 22-13, before consecutive putbacks by Blizzard and senior Nia Willams made it a 13-point, 26-13. Belton advantage at the break. 
York finished with 14 points to lead the Lady Tigers followed by Blizzard (8 points, Brewer (6), Williams (4), Wesley (2), senior Janna Harvey (2) and senior Jarisha Rice (2).
McCloud had eight points to lead the Copperas Cove scorers, followed by Powell (7), Honea (6), Griffon (6), Carter (5), Knotts (2) and Johnson (2).
The Cove JV girls beat Belton 41-29 while the Freshman A team won 34-20.
The Lady Dawgs return to action Tuesday night with a home contest against the Killeen Lady Kangaroos. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with the varsity boys to follow.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” said McAdams. “We’ve got Killeen coming in. It’s a tough district. Every night we step on the court, we’re going to get everybody’s best.”

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