Lady Dawgs improve to 12-1 with Gold championship at Hill Country Classic
By TJ MAXWELL
MARBLE FALLS – The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs’ basketball team kept their hot streak going this weekend with a gold bracket championship at the Hill Country Classic held at Marble Falls High School.
The Lady Dawgs went 2-1 in pool play before downing host Marble Falls 40-35 in the gold bracket semifinals to earn a spot in the final against Schertz Clemens on Saturday.
A loss against San Antonio O’Connor in their second contest on Thursday knocked the Lady Dawgs out of an opportunity to play in the Platinum Championship on Saturday afternoon, but they rebounded with wins over Marble Falls and Clemens to earn the gold bracket title.
In Saturday’s Gold Bracket Championship game, the Lady Dawgs fought off a late flurry by the Lady Buffaloes to earn a 45-43 win with 8 for 10 free throws by senior Madisen “MJ” Honea for eight of Cove’s 12 points down the stretch.
The Lady Dawgs took control on both ends of the court to start the championship game, holding the Lady Buffaloes to just 13 points in the half, including a five-point second quarter.
The Lady Dawgs nearly doubled that point total in the first quarter alone on their way to a 28-13 lead at the halftime break.
After Clemens took a 4-2 lead in the opening quarter, a driving basket by senior Leah Powell started a 10-4 run to close the quarter. A three-pointer by senior Keana Garrett and a basket by senior Kaysha McCloud on the assist from Garrett put Cove in front, 9-6, and a three-pointer by senior Deja Chapman closed out the Cove scoring.
The Lady Dawgs increased their lead to 11, 19-8, with a traditional three-point play by McCloud and two baskets by Powell.
A driving basket by Clemens sophomore Deja Hinson and a three-pointer by senior Mya Timberlake cut Cove’s lead to six, but a basket by McCloud and free throws from senior Tiana Barker and McCloud pushed the lead back to 11.
Two free throws and a basket by McCloud closed out the first-half scoring.
The Lady Buffaloes came out firing to start the second half, cutting the Lady Dawgs’ lead to just three, 30-27, with 2:44 left in the quarter.
Baskets by Hinson, sophomore Jasmyn Brock, sophomore Jayda Postell and freshman Aysia Proctor; along with free throws by Brock and freshman Jayda Reece; sparked the Clemens rally.
A spot up three-pointer by Honea halted the Clemens run and gave Cove a 33-27 advantage heading into the final frame.
Three-consecutive trips to the charity stripe by Honea pushed Cove’s lead to nine, 38-29 to start the period.
A traditional three-point play by Proctor and a three-pointer from beyond the arc by Timberlake brought Clemens back within two scores, 39-35.
Cove took advantage of two failed trips to the free throw line by Clemens and pushed their lead to six, 41-35, on a basket by Cove junior A’Zariah Knotts.
A basket by Reece, a steal for a layup by Proctor and 1 for 2 free throws by Hinson pulled Clemens within a point, 42-41, but two free throws from Honea and one by McCloud with 5.7 seconds left gave Cove the 45-43 edge and a buzzer-beater attempt by Hinson clanked the rim to close the game.
McCloud finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Lady Dawgs while Honea finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
Hinson (11 points) and Postell (10) led the Lady Buffaloes’ effort.
Cove opened the tournament on Thursday with a 44-39 win over Austin Vandergrift, led by 14 points from McCloud and 13 from Powell.
The Lady Dawgs then suffered their first loss of the tournament and the season in game two against San Antonio O’Connor.
A slow third quarter put them in a 15-point hole entering the final stanza where they managed to cut into the lead but not enough in a 51-41 contest.
Cove closed out poll play with another close win over Cornerstone Christian, 51-49, where nine different Lady Dawgs notched points.
Cove earned their way into Saturday’s championship game with a 40-35 win over Marble Falls.
The Lady Dawgs get back to action Tuesday with another contest against the Lady Mustangs in Marble Falls with an 11:30 a.m. tip-off time before opening District 12-6A action at Belton next Tuesday.