Lady Dawgs move to 4-4 with pre-Thanksgiving win over Connally 45-28
By TJ MAXWELL
The Lady Dawgs used pressure defense and second-chance opportunities to defeat the Waco Connally Lady Cadets 45-28 to move to 4-4 on the season with just three games left until District 12-6A action begins on the road at Harker Heights on Dec. 11.
Seniors A’Zariah “AZ” Knotts and Jasmine Sankey combined for 27 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Lady Dawgs to victory.
“We graduated nine seniors, so their roles are very important,” Copperas Cove girls head basketball coach Tiffney Barnes-Graham said about Knotts and Sankey after the win. “We need them on the court. Without their presence, we struggle a little bit. They’ve come a long way from last year. They’re in a position where they weren’t last year so this is a new world for them, too.”
Pressure defense kept the Lady Cadets off-balance, but the Lady Dawgs were unable to translate the turnovers into points often on the other end.
“We’ve got to capitalize on turnovers and rebounds,” said Barnes-Graham. “We’re still young and we get excited about defense, so when we do force a turnover, we’re so excited we’re trying to play hot potato instead of relaxing and keeping the possession.
“We take our pride in our defense so, it’s very important that we work hard on the defensive end, because we’ve got to capitalize that.”
The Lady Dawgs took control early as putbacks by Knotts and senior Micah Anderson, along with a steal by sophomore guard Khia Horton that resulted in a Knotts basket helped Cove take a 10-5 lead in the first period before a steal for a basket and a foul by Knotts made it a 13-5 Cove lead after one quarter of action.
The Lady Cadets opened the second quarter with a pair of free throws by CeCe McDonald to cut into the Lady Dawgs’ lead, but two baskets by Sankey on assists by Knotts and Anderson, respectively, and a basket by Anderson on the assist by Knotts opened up a 12-point Lady Dawgs’ lead 19-7.
Two more free throws by Connally’s Jamya Brown pulled Connally back within 10, but a free throw by junior Samaria Bostic and a putback by Knotts gave Cove their largest lead at 13, 22-9.
Connally’s Jamyah Turner connected on two technical foul free throws , Asia Smith and Tatianna Jenkins each connected on 1 for 2 free throws and Turner scored on a putback to cut the lead to single digits, 22-15, with just over three minutes to play in the half.
The Lady Dawgs answered with 1 for 2 free throws by Bostic and 2 for 2 by Anderson for a 25-15 Cove lead with 1:19 left in the half.
The Lady Cadets cut the lead to just six with 1 for 2 free throws and a three-pointer as time expired by Jenkins for a 25-19 score at the break.
A basket and 2 for 2 free throws by Sankey along with a steal for a score by Knotts pushed Cove’s lead back to 12, 31-19 with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
Connally’s McDonald slowed the Lady Dawgs’ run with a pair of free throws, but Cove answered with 1 for 2 free throws each from junior Kyra Gaston and Horton and a length of the court layup by Horton for a 35-21 Cove advantage with 49 seconds left in the third.
McDonald added 1 for 2 free throws to close out the third-quarter scoring for a 35-22 contest heading into the final frame.
A streaking basket by Connally’s Alise Medlock and 1 for 2 free throws by McDonald cut the lead to 10 before Cove grew the lead to 15, 40-25, with a putback and 1 for 2 free throws by Sankey along with a basket by Knotts.
Another trip to the charity stripe by Connally’s Turner resulted in 1 for 2 free throws before the Lady Dawgs answered with five unanswered points on baskets by Knotts and Anderson along with a free throw by Horton to give them their largest lead on the game at 19, 45-26.
A pair of free throws by Connally’s E’Yanna Amos closed out the scoring for a 45-28 final score.
Knotts notched a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Lady Dawgs. She added five steals and three assists. Sankey added 12 points and six boards followed by Anderson (8 pts, 3 stls, 3 rebs, 1 asst), Horton (4 pts, 6 stls), senior Alaura Gallups (3 pts), Bostic (2 pts, 2 rebs) and Gaston (1 pt, 3 rebs).
The Lady Dawgs return to action tonight at home against Pflugerville before closing out the non-district slate at home against Waco Midway on Friday and at home against Cibolo Steele next Tuesday.
“I just want to see us put in more effort on the offensive end,” Barnes-Graham said about these final non-district tilts. “We need to be able to score on the offensive end, not just in transition. A lot of people are going to play us in the zone, so we’ve got to learn how to score on the offensive end.”