Lady Dawgs run past Lady Tigers 44-32
By TJ MAXWELL
BELTON - The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs’ basketball team avenged one loss from the first round of District 12-6A play and put themselves back in the chase for the district crown with a 44-32 win over the Belton Lady Tigers in Belton on Tuesday.
After getting knocked out of a first-place in their second game of four-consecutive road games last Friday in Temple to close out the first round of district action, the Lady Dawgs pulled back within one game of district leader Midway (7-2) and forced a tie in the second spot with the Harker Heights Lady Knights (6-3).
“Coming in, we knew it was a big game,” said Copperas Cove head girls’ basketball coach Eldridge McAdams. “Our deal was to try to push the tempo. It was like a heavyweight fight there in the first quarter, then we separated a little bit. We made shots in the paint and they were big then it opened it up and we hit a couple threes out there.
“I thought, the difference was that we made some shots in the paint tonight.”
The Lady Dawgs used a stingy defense and solid ball movement on offense to advance to turn a two-point first-quarter deficit into a 23-11 lead at the halftime break.
“We changed a few things this week because they were hurting us in our other (system) so we tweaked some things and I thought it worked,” said McAdams. “The girls were scrambling, but sometimes I thought they were over-scrambling. Overall, I think the defense played into our offense. It helped the tempo a little bit, we got some steals and forced turnovers on bad passes. Anytime you can get that, it definitely helps.”
The 25-3 run by Copperas Cove was sparked by a handful of assists, including three by senior Madison Griffon.
A free throw by junior Kaysha McCloud kicked off the Cove scoring before four consecutive assists resulted in baskets to flip the game from a one-point Cove deficit to a seven-point advantage.
A three-pointer by senior Jayda Carter on the assist by junior Deja Chapman gave Cove the lead before a pair of connections between Griffon and McCloud made it a 13-8 game. A free throw and a basket by Belton junior Jocelyn Brewer sandwiched another three-pointer by Cove’s Carter before three consecutive baskets by Griffon closed out the half for the 23-11 Cove lead.
The Lady Tigers managed to mount some offense behind senior Natasha Blizzard to start the third quarter. Three baskets by Blizzard, a three-pointer by junior Taylin Wesley and a free throw by senior Risha Rice brought the Lady Tigers within two possessions, 26-21, but back-to-back floaters by Cove’s Griffon closed the period with a nine-point Lady Dawgs’ lead, 30-21.
A basket by sophomore Jasmine Sankey pushed Cove’s lead to 11 to start the fourth quarter, 32-21.
Free throws by Rice and Blizzard again cut the lead to single digits, but a steal for a layup by Griffon and a pair of free throws by Carter grew the lead to 12, 36-24 with 4:45 remaining in the contest.
Baskets by Blizzard and Brewer for Belton and sophomore AZ Knotts and McCloud for Cove pushed the score to 42-30 with 1:01 left.
Both teams finished the game from the free throw line with Blizzard hitting 2 for 4 for Belton and Griffon hitting 2 for 3 for Cove to close out the scoring.
“The first time we played them, we didn’t play well, and we didn’t shoot well,” said McAdams. “I think we were 8 or 9 for 70 that night against them and it still was a good game.
“Coach Gomez is a great coach. I told her, ‘if she ever writes a book, I would definitely buy it.’ I knew the girls were going to play hard but the difference, I thought, was us making points in the paint and causing them to speed up because they don’t like that tempo.”
Kaysha McCloud had 14 points and four rebounds while Griffon added 14 points and five assists to lead the Lady Dawgs. Carter added eight points, followed by Knotts (4 pts), senior Chyla Johnson (2 pts) and Sankey (2 pts).
Blizzard finished with a game-high 17 points to lead the Lady Tigers while Brewer added seven more for the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Dawgs (21-7 overall and 6-3 in District 12-6A) travel to Killeen tonight to take on the Ellison Lady Eagles (4-4) in their fourth-consecutive road game.