LEARNING FROM LOSS
By TJ MAXWELL
Moral victories are not something a coach likes to hang their hat on.
However, Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs head basketball coach Eldridge McAdams knows that navigating the gauntlet that is District 8-6A basketball, including Tuesday’s season-ending loss to Killeen, will only help his young team grow.
“We hope the growing pangs of this season help us going into next year,” said McAdams. “I think four of our 10 district losses were by doubles digits and the rest were by four or five points and you hope to grow from that. We definitely have some talent so, hopefully, we can get after it this off-season and work hard.
“I believe it’s one of the toughest districts in the area. Like right now, there is a three-way tie for first place. It’s a tough district.”
Like many of the losses this season, the Lady Dawgs hung tough in the first half Tuesday against Killeen, but found themselves in a significant hole midway through the second half of their 49-38 loss to the Lady Kangaroos.
“I thought we got after it,” said McAdams. “I thought we competed and done some things pretty good tonight. Inside the paint hurt us tonight. We were 5 for 25 from and there were times we could’ve cut the lead down. We would miss on our end and they would go capitalize.”
Trailing by just two points at the break, 23-21, the Lady Dawgs were outscored 8-2 to begin the second half with three of the four Killeen baskets coming on second chance opportunities by junior Manesha Knox and senior Jacen Moore.
Senior Kayla McCloud was able to briefly halt the Lady Roos’ run with a par of free throws to make it a six-point contest but 3 for 4 free throws by Killeen sophomores Cierra Penn and Meleanna Williams and a wide-open layup by senior Alexus Scharkley gave Killeen an 11-points advantage with 46.7 seconds remaining in the third period.
An offensive rebound and putback by Cove freshman Kaysha McCloud cut the lead back to single digits to close the quarter.
The Lady Roos finished off the contest from the charity stripe where Knox, Moore, senior Shianne Johnson, Scharkley and Penn combined for 11 of 14 free throws to secure the 11-point victory and claim a third of the district title with Ellison and Waco Midway at 12-2.
The Lady Dawgs were able to narrow the Killeen lead to six, 40-34, on a bucket by senior Chyanne Chapman and a three-pointer by sophomore Madison Griffon with 2:35 remaining in the game.
Point-blank misses on the offensive end, paired with 5 for 6 free throws on the other end by Killeen kept the Lady Dawgs at bay.
“I thought we competed from start to finish and we had chances,” said McAdams. “Overall I thought the girls competed and made them work for it.
“We were 5 for 10 from three-point land and that’s pretty good. I thought we did better in that sense. We weren’t just jacking the ball up. We just didn’t capitalize on those chippies.”
Cove quickly found themselves in a hole to begin the contest after buckets by Moore, Penn and Johnson pushed Killeen to a 7-2 lead but consecutive three-pointers by Griffon and junior Mariyah Reynolds pulled the Lady Dawgs within one, 9-8.
A three-pointer by junior Jaida Burkes and a bucket by Knox helped Killen hold onto the narrow advantage, 14-10, after eight minutes of action.
Two free throws by Johnson pushed the lead to six before a two and a three by freshman Madisen Honea brought Cove back within a bucket, 17-15.
A traditional three-point play by Penn pushed Killeen’s lead back to six before buckets by seniors Kayla McCloud and Rita Phillips cut the lead back to two at the half.
Penn and Moore shared team-honors for Killeen with 11 points each while Scharkley added eight and Knox chipped in seven. Moore also led the squad with 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Griffon led the Lady Dawgs’ scoring with 11 points, including 3 for 4 from three-point range. Eight other Lady Dawgs scored in the contest with Chapman adding six points, Honea chipping in five and Kayla McCloud scoring four points and snagging a team-high nine rebounds.
The Lady Dawgs finish the season 17-17 overall and 4-10 in District 8-6A.
McAdams loses seniors Chapman, McCloud, Dejhana Butler and Phillips to graduation; but return nine players with varsity experience. Chapman, McCloud, Butler had similar roles in the offense ad McAdams is looking to some youngs ones to fill that void.
“It’s one of those bittersweet moments,” said McAdams after the season finale. “You hate to lose them but, at the same time, you want them to take that next step in their lives.
“It’s hard to replace Chyanne, Kayla, Dejhana and Rita. This is my senior bunch. They were all freshmen when I came in, so this is the first class I’ve had from start to finish. We do have the freshmen Kaysha McCloud and Erica Powell who got a chance to play with them and will be back. I’m hoping they learned from them.”
He’s also encouraged that he will have five girls with significant experience returning to the backcourt in Griffon, Honea, Reynolds, sophomore Oni Boodoo and junior Yaqar Elmore. Sophomore guard Jayda Carter also returns.
“These girls got a chance to play,” said McAdams. “It’s on the job training. You can’t simulate that in practice so they have to get on the court and play. I think the more we play together, the better we’re going to get. You hate losing but you look out there and see that we’ve got three freshmen, three sophomores and three juniors that are all coming back and that’s a good thing. We’re excited about Lady Dawg basketball.”
To view more please log in or subscribe to the digital edition. http://www.etypeservices.com/Copperas%20Cove%20Leader-PressID141/