Lady Dawgs clinch playoff berth with 65-50 win over Shoemaker

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

The Lady Dawgs needed to just win Tuesday night at home to secure their spot in the 2018 State Basketball Playoffs and a strong 18-point, three steals, three assists performance by junior spark plug Madison Griffon helped accomplish that task in a 65-50 win over the Shoemaker Lady Grey Wolves Tuesday at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
“She does a great job of controlling the game,” Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams said of his junior floor leader. “I have to let her know that every now and then that she’s able to do that. A lot of teams try to take her away but she has the ability to force her will. 
“She’s getting better. At times, I think she tries to do too much but overall, she definitely does a great job. If she’s on go, then we’re on go.”
The Lady Dawgs found themselves trailing early against the winless Lady Wolves, 9-7, but responded with a 20-4 run to take control of the game for good to lock up that third seed representing District 8-6A.
“Their team is down a little bit but they still get after it,” said McAdams. “We knew coming in that they weren’t just going to roll over and give us anything.
“I though we set the tone early. We got after it from start to finish. We had a few letdowns at times but overall, we were able to do what we wanted to do and needed to do.”
With one of their top rebounders missing the game, McAdams needed people to step up and senior Erica Powell and junior Jayda Carter answered the call with a combined 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end.
“Without Kaysha and her rebounding, we needed somebody else to step up,” said McAdams. “We decided to put Erica in that starting role which would help us match up with Charlene. Erica is also our energizer bunny.” 
Griffon was impressed with the play of both girls.
“Erica and Jayda both stepped up real big,” said Griffon. “They are playing roles they’re not used to and handling it really well. They’re both working really hard in practice and proving themselves. It’s just fun to watch them play hard and have their work show on the court.”
A three-pointer by Shoemaker sophomore De’Ashanti Smith gave Shoemaker their second lead of the first quarter, 9-7, before a bucket by Shepherd knotted the game at 13-all.
11 unanswered points by Cove then flipped the lead back to the Lady Dawgs for good, 24-13.
A pair of driving buckets Erica Powell, a sky hook by senior guard Yaqar Elmore, a three-pointer by Griffon and an offensive rebound for a putback by Carter accounted for the Cove run.
A putback by Shepherd and a bucket by sophomore Jazmine Banner pulled the Lady Wolves within 10, 27-17 with 3:52 left in the half. 
The second steal for a bucket of the half for Powell pushed the lead back to 12, 29-17.
The Lady Wolves got the lead back to single digits, 31-23, with free throws by Shepherd, along with baskets by Shepherd and Smith.
A free throw by Griffon, a three-pointer by junior Alex Brito and a bucket by sophomore Leah Powell helped Cove finish the half with a 37-24 lead.
Consecutive baskets by Shepherd again cut Cove’s lead to single digits, 40-32, but a three-pointer by Carter, along with free throws by Griffon and Brito take a 10-point lead, 45-35, into the final quarter. 
The Lady Dawgs quickly pushed their lead to 17, 52-35, on a pair of free throws and a bucket by the senior Powell and another trey by Carter.
A three-pointer by Shepherd briefly halted the Cove run but another putback by the senior Powell and five consecutive free throws by Griffon opened the Cove lead to 19, 59-40.
Baskets by sophomore Chyra Thompson and Banner, along with a three-pointer by junior Alexa Velasquez cut Cove’s lead back to 12, 59-47.
A basket by senior Mariyah Reynolds and successful free throw trips by Griffon and Reynolds closed out the scoring for Cove and punched their post-season ticket.
“It feels really good and I’m really proud about it but we have to go one game at a time and worry about the game Friday,” said Griffon. “We’ll worry about the playoffs when it comes.”
With a three-game lead over the field and just two games to play, the Lady Dawgs 
Erica Powell added 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals to the Cove tally while Carter added 13 points and eight rebounds (six offensive) to help secure the Lady Dawgs’ playoff berth.
Also contributing for Cove were Leah Powell (6 pts, 2 rebs), sophomore Madisen Honea 4 pts, 2 rebs, 2 stls), Reynolds (4 pts, 3 stls, 4 rebs), Brito (4 pts, reb) and Elmore (2 pts, 2 rebs).
Shepherd led all scorers with 25 points. She also added nine rebounds and two steals for the Lady Wolves (0-12). Sophomore Emi’jah Spencer and Smith added seven points each. 
Cove (24-8, 8-4 in District 8-6A) closes out their district slate at home against Harker Heights tonight and on the road at Killeen on Tuesday.
Griffon would like to see some growth in these last two games leading up to the postseason.
“We can easily clean up everywhere but the main spot is defense and moving the ball a little more on offense and not being so rushed to score right when we get the ball,” she said.
McAdams also wants to see some things cleaned up before the playoffs begin. 
“This win tonight put us in that third spot,” said McAdams. “We just don’t want to take any steps backwards. 
“Tonight, there were some things we were doing that we shouldn’t be doing at this time of the season. We don’t want to rest because we are in the playoffs. We want to keep going to and keep getting better.” 

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