Lady Dawgs eliminated on last-second free throws by Tem-Cats
By TJ MAXWELL
After a putback by Copperas Cove senior Leah Powell appeared to clinch a playoff berth for the Lady Dawgs, a foul with 2.4 seconds on the clock sent Temple sophomore Aaliyah Thomas where she hit two clutch free throws for her only two points of the night to lock up the fourth and final spot in the District 12-6A playoff chase during their winner-take-all clash Tuesday night at Bulldawg Stadium.
Knotted 24-all after a back-and-forth first half, the Lady Dawgs looked to gain control with a 11-2 run to open the second half.
A basket by senior Kaysha McCloud broke the tie to open the quarter before trips to the free throw line by senior Deja Chapman and junior AZ Knotts made it a 30-24 contest before senior Wilashia Burleson hit a basket for two of her game-high 20 points for the Tem-Cats for a four-point contest.
Baskets by McCloud and Powell, and a free throw by senior MJ Honea, gave the Lady Dawgs their largest lead of the night at nine points, 35-26.
The Tem-Cats answered with an 8-2 to cut the deficit to four, highlighted by a three-pointer by junior Taliyah Johnson with 16.7 seconds left in the third quarter.
McCloud again opened the quarter with a basket to push Cove’s lead back to six, 39-33, but 7 for 8 free throws by Burleson, Johnson and junior Quinterria Russell and a basket by Johnson sparked a 9-3 run by the Tem-Cats to knot the game at 42-all with 4:32 remining.
A basket by Knotts flipped the lead back to the Lady Dawgs, 44-42, before a traditional three-point play by Burleson gave the Tem-Cats a 45-44 lead.
A three-pointer by Powell again gave Cove the lead before a pair of free throws by Johnson knotted the game once again.
After a missed opportunity at the free throw line by Cove, a steal for a layup by Powell gave the edge back to Cove 49-47 with 1:20 left in regulation.
Another successful trip to the charity stripe by Temple’s Johnson tied the game once again at 49-all before 1 for 2 free throws by Knotts broke the tie with 42.3 seconds left.
The 19th and 20th point by Burleson put the Tem-Cats ahead by one 51-50 before the hustle play by Powell with the offensive rebound and putback gave Cove a chance at victory leading 52-51.
However, a foul sent Thomas to the line where she sealed the game, 53-52, and clinched a playoff game against District 11-6A winner Tyler Lee.
Burleson had six rebounds, two assists and a block to go with her game-high 20 points, followed by Johnson’s 18 points and three assists. The Tem-Cats were 14 for 15 from the free throw line in the deciding fourth quarter, including 5 for 5 from Burleson and 5 for 6 from Johnson.
The Lady Dawgs were led by Powell’s double-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. McCloud added 13 points, five rebounds and four steals, followed by Knotts (11 points, 5 rebs, and 3 stls), and Honea (7 pts & 3 rebs).
The Lady Dawgs say goodbye to nine seniors (Honea, Livonna Wallace, Ja’Aliyah Segrest, McCloud, Tiana Barker, Chapman, Powell, Keana Garrett, and Jazzaree Jones.