Lady Dawgs’ hoops defeat McNeil 52-34
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs’ basketball team had a much better showing in their second attempt in front of their home crowd on Tuesday as they doubled the offensive output of the Lady Mavericks to build a 35-17 lead at the break on their way to a 52-34 win to improve to 2-3 on their young season.
“I think we’re playing harder,” assistant coach Doug Messer said after the win. “With all of this, it’s hard right now. We’re just going day-to-day. Just having our kids come out, compete, and play hard is what we’re looking for right now. We’re pleased with the score, obviously, we just have to continue to improve and we saw some improvements tonight.”
Cove senior Jasmine Sankey hit 1 for 2 free throws and senior A’Zariah Knotts had an offensive rebound for a putback to set the early tone and build a 3-0 lead.
A pair of free throws and a basket by McNeil sophomore Lauren Rowan and another basket by sophomore Frances Odom flipped the lead to the Lady Mavs, 6-3, before the Lady Dawgs closed the first quarter on a 16-3 run for a 19-9 lead after eight minutes of action.
Baskets by junior Yvonna Drayton and Samaria Bostic flipped the lead back to Cove at 7-6 before a basket by McNeil freshman Riley Samples briefly gave the lead back to the Lady Mavs, 8-7.
A free throw by Cove sophomore Shayla Marrie then started a run of 12 unanswered points. A putback by Drayton, a fast break basket by senior Alaura Gallups and a steal for a score by Marrie made it 14-8 with 1:23 left in the period before a three-pointer and a steal for a score by Gallups gave Cove a 19-8 lead.
A free throw by McNeil’s Samples closed out the first-quarter scoring.
A three-pointer by junior Natalie Curtis and 4 for 6 free throws by junior Tierria Bell pulled the Lady Mavs within five, 21-16, before a pair of free throws each by senior Micah Anderson and Knotts, along with baskets by Drayton and Knotts pushed Cove’s lead back to 13, 29-16, with 2:03 left in the first half.
A free throw by McNeil’s Curtis briefly stalled the Cove momentum, but a basket by Drayton, along with a putback and fast break basket by Anderson closed the half for a 35-17 Lady Dawgs’ lead.
After four missed McNeil free throws to begin the third quarter, McNeil junior Ainsley Heinig broke the scoring drought with a basket before Sankey connected on consecutive baskets for Cove to make it a 39-19 contest with just under five minutes left in the period.
A free throw by senior Bri Jones and a basket by Curtis made it a 39-22 score before a basket by Cove’s Knotts and one by McNeil’s Jones closed out the quarter with a 41-24 score.
Two free throws by McNeil’s Samples narrowed the Cove lead, but a three-pointer by Cove’s Marrie put momentum back on the Lady Dawgs’ side.
A basket and free throw by McNeil freshman Karvey Madyastha and a putback by Cove’s Sankey pushed the score to 46-19 and a trey by Madyastha cut Cove’s lead to 14, 46-32, with time winding down.
A pair of free throws each by Cove’s Knotts and Bostic, along with a basket by Knotts closed out Cove’s scoring while a free throw each from Curtis and jones closed out McNeil’s scoring for a 52-34 final score.
“I felt good about our press and how we rotated on it and I felt good about some of the offensive stuff,” Messer said of the positive takeaways. “They played zone most of the game, but we still moved the ball around well and dispersed the wealth.”
Knotts led the Lady Dawgs with 12 points and added six rebound and four steals. Sankey added nine points and seven boards. Drayton added seven points and two steals followed by Gallups (7 pts, 2 reb) Anderson (6 pts, 2 stls) and Bostic (4 pts, 3 reb).
Curtis led the Lady Mavs’ scoring with seven followed by Samples with five.
The Lady Dawgs return to action this Saturday at Bulldawg Gymnasium with a 1 p.m. tipoff against the Brenham Cubettes and will host Waco Connally for senior and parents’ night Tuesday with a. 1:30 p.m. tipoff.
“We just need to continue to play hard,” said Messer. “We sometimes don’t play with the energy we need to. I think it’s’ from the layoffs and the uncertainty, but I think we’re starting to find that certainty that we have within our team.”