Lady Dawgs improve to 8-0 with 57-47 win over McNeil
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs’ basketball team shook off a slow start to defeat Round Rock McNeil 57-47 during their non-district clash Tuesday night at Bulldawg gymnasium in game one of a varsity doubleheader.
“It was a slow start,” Copperas Cove girls’ head basketball coach Tiffney Barnes-Graham said after the win. “We weren’t getting back on defense and we were slow transitioning on offense. It was a slow start so, my staff and I, just had to remind them of what we’re working towards. We’re working to get better and I think it clicked and they started playing. We’re going to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It will, but we just have to adjust. We have to come out ready to play every single quarter.”
Senior Madisen “MJ” Honea led the Copperas Cove offensive attack with 20 points while senior post Leah Powell added 13 points and eight rebounds and senior post Kaysha McCloud notched a game-high 11 rebounds to help keep the lady Mavericks offense at bay.
“(Honea) leads every day,” Barnes-Graham said of her four-year varsity starter. “She leads us in practice, she leads us off the court and she leads us in games. She cannot be the only leader though, we need someone to step up and help her with that and we’re still trying to find it.”
The Lady Dawgs got off to a slow start and quickly found themselves in an 8-1 hole before a basket by McCloud and a 3-pointer by Honea kick-started a 22-7 run to close the first quarter.
Honea then cut the Lady Mavs’ lead to two, 10-8, with a steal for a basket.
A baseline layup by Michayla Mitchell extended McNeil’s lead to four, 12-8, but baskets by Cove seniors Jaaliyah Segrest and Powell along with three baskets by Honea opened up a seven-point Cove lead at 19-12.
A three-pointer by McNeil junior Nadia Pouya briefly halted the Cove run, but a putback by senior Keana Garrett gave the Lady Dawgs a 21-15 lead after one quarter.
The Lady Dawgs’ defense took over in the second quarter, allowing just seven Lady Mavs’ points in the period.
A three-pointer by Powell and a basket by Garrett gave Cove a 26-15 lead to start the second period, but a scoop for a score by freshman Lauren Rowan and a three-pointer by sophomore Tierra Bell pulled the Lady Mavs back within six, 26-20.
A traditional three-point play by Powell along with a free throw and putback of her own miss by junior Jasmine Sankey helped the Lady Dawgs take a 32-22 lead into the halftime break.
Cove extended their lead to 14, 39-25, with baskets by senior Deja Chapman and Powell and a three-pointer by Honea.
A pair of baskets by McNeil senior Kali Garrett and another by senior Anaya Carter narrowed Cove’s lead to 10, 41-31.
Trips to the free throw line by Powell and Sankey closed out the period with Cove ahead 44-34.
A driving basket by Powell and a lefty runner in the lane by Honea extended Cove’s lead to 12, 48-36, but a basket and free throw by sophomore Natalie Curtis and a three-pointer by Bell narrowed the Cove lead to just eight, 50-42.
Trips to the free throw line by senior Tiana Barker, senior Livonna Wallace, and Powell helped Cove grow their advantage back to 11, 53-42, with 2:15 left in the game.
A three-pointer by McNeil’s Bell made it a nine-point game before 2 for 4 free throws by Honea and a basket by Garrett pushed Cove’s lead to 12 and a basket by McNeil senior Reah Jackson closed the scoring for a 57-47 final score.
Honea finished with 20 points, four assists, four steals and four rebounds followed by Powell 13 pts, 8 rebs), McCloud (7 pts, 11 rebs), Garrett (6 pts, 5 rebs) Sankey (4 pts, 7 rebs, 1 blk), Wallace (2 pts, 2 rebs), Chapman (2 pts, 1 asst, 1 reb) and Barker (1 pt, 1 asst).
The Lady Mavs were led by Bell with 14 points and Garrett with 12.
The win improves the Lady Dawgs to 8-0 on the season but coach Barnes-Graham says that records are the last thing on her mind.
“We don’t talk about it,” she said. “Every game is an important game. We’re trying to take it one step at a time. We don’t talk about being 8-0 at all because that’s not what our focus is. Our focus is to progress every single time we step on the court.”
The Lady Dawgs will attempt to keep that progression going this weekend during the Marble Falls Hill Country Classic that began yesterday with games against Austin Vandergrift and San Antonio O’Connor (result not known as of press time).
They continue play today with a 1:30 p.m. matchup with Cornerstone Christian and seeded action begins on Saturday.
“There are going to be some really great teams,” Barnes-Graham said of the tournament. “I think this tournament is going to help us mentally, physically, emotionally and be together as a unit. We can see what we can do and how we react when things aren’t going our way.”