Lady Dawgs’ defense stout in 57-43 road win over Lady Eagles
By TJ MAXWELL
KILLEEN – Disruption was the game plan for the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs as they established a full-court press from the onset and applied pressure defense throughout their 57-43 road win Friday night at Ellison High School.
The Lady Dawgs’ pressure held the Lady Eagles to just four first-quarter points in a lopsided 14-4 first quarter and held the Lady Eagles to just eight points in the third quarter to open a 12-point advantage heading into the final frame.
“I thought we had energy off the bat, but then I thought we kind of hit cruise control in the second,” said Copperas Cove girls’ head basketball coach Eldridge McAdams. “We came back out in the second half with a bit more energy and I think that was the difference. I think we were scrappy on the defensive end, chasing loose balls, and things like that. If I had to sum it up, I think we brought a little more energy for 2 ½ of the four quarters.”
Cove notched their largest lead of the night of 17 with 1:16 remaining. Three-consecutive trips to the charity stripe by senior Madison Griffon closed out the Cove scoring for a 57-40 lead before a free throw by junior Arrianna Faulks and a basket by freshman Ichani Norman closed out the scoring for the Lady Eagles for the 57-43 final score.
“Our defense was huge in this game,” said junior guard Madisen Honea who finished with a game-high five steals. “I believe that’s what made our game go so fast and gave us the energy. Our defense was key. We knew coming in to this game that is wasn’t our offense that was going to win us this game.
“We definitely wanted to speed them up at the beginning to show them that we were here and we wanted to win this game.”
The plan worked perfectly as the Lady Eagles struggled to even get off shots in the opening period as Cove mounted a 14-4 lead.
After Cove’s Griffon and Ellison senior Amani Bradshaw exchanged baskets for a 2-2 tie, the Lady Dawgs closed on a 12-2 run to take control early. A steal for a three-pointer and 1 for 2 free throws by Honea and a put back by junior Leah Powell made it a 10-2 Cove lead before a basket by Mylaiysha Norman briefly halted the Cove run. A floater by sophomore AZ Knotts and a basket by senior Chyla Johnson closed out the frame for the 14-4 lead.
Cove pushed their lead to 13, 17-4, on a basket by Honea and a free throw by junior Kaysha McCloud before the Lady Eagles cut the Cove lead to just one, 21-20, on a 17-3 run. Shots by junior Alina Simon, Bradshaw and senior Deajia Brown; along with 4 for 6 free throws by Brown; accounted for the Ellison run.
Cove closed the period on a 5-0 run and opened the third period on an 8-0 run to open a 14-point lead, 34-20, with 3:10 left in the third. A basket by sophomore Jasmine Sankey and trips to the free throw line by senior Jayda Carter and Knotts accounted for the final five points of the first while baskets by Honea and Powell accounted for the 8-0 second-quarter run.
Free throws by Honea, a three-pointer by Carter and a put back by McCloud helped Cove maintain a double-digit lead, 40-28, heading into the fourth quarter.
Another three-pointer from Honea helped Cove push their lead to 15, 46-31 with 5:19 left and a traditional three-point play by Knotts equaled their largest lead of 17, 49-32, with 4:56 left.
A three-pointer by Ellison’s Faulks pulled the Lady Eagles back within 14 but that is a close as they would get in the 57-43 contest.
“I can definitely tell you some things that went wrong, but when you can come out with a win on the road - especially at Ellison – you’ll take it,” said McAdams.
“I don’t know why, but sometimes the third quarter is our Achilles’ Heel, so to come out in the third quarter and do that was really big. We had to come out like that because they had a little momentum, cutting the lead from double-digits down to six. If we didn’t come out and bring some energy, I thought we would be in a little trouble.
“I was really impressed with some of the girls off the bench. AZ Knotts came in a did a great job and being able to lean on the bench a little bit helped us.”
Honea was impressed with her bench as well.
“That was huge for us,” she said. “Most of the time we have to show them the energy and tell them to keep going but they were here today and that was huge for us. They showed up and played and I’m really proud of them.”
Honea led the Lady Dawgs with 16 points and the five steals while Carter added nine points and five rebounds and Powell had eight points and five boards. Knotts (7), Griffon (6), McCloud (5) and Johnson (4) closed out the scoring for Cove.
Bradshaw led the Lady Eagles with 11 points followed by Brown (9), Simon (6), Faulks (6), sophomore Nylia Mobley (6), sophomore Ke’Myha Satchel (2), Norman (2) and junior Di’ambria Whyte (1).
Honea feels Friday’s road win boosts the team’s confidence.
“This definitely shows that we can beat any team in our district,” she said. “This is what we wanted and what we’ve fought for.”
The Lady Dawg’s JV beat Ellison 46-35. Livonna Wallace had 16 points and seven steals to lead Cove while Keana Garrett added 12 points and eight rebounds.
The freshman (B) team lost 17-15. Kyra Bennett led with nine points while Karen Johnson added four points.
The freshman (A) team lost to Ellison, 37-28. Jordan McGhee led Cove with seven points; Kyra Gaston and Samaria Bostic added six points each and Jade Chapman added four.
On Tuesday night, the freshman (A) team beat Killeen 36-13. McGhee led scoring with 17 points & Gaston had eight points.
The Lady Dawgs (13-4 overall, 2-1 in District 12-6A) hope to continue those winning ways when they return home tonight to face the Waco High Lady Lions (0-2 in District 12-6A) in the first game of a varsity double-header to begin at 6:30 p.m. The varsity boys will follow.