No. 8 Lady Dawgs win state-ranked battle over No. 16 Midway

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

Strong guard play from the two Madis (junior Madison Griffon and sophomore Madisen Honea) along with some clutch rebounds late in the fourth by senior Erica Powell secured the no. 8 (TABC) ranked Lady Dawgs’ 60-53 over the no. 16 Waco Midway Pantherettes Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
“It was definitely a good one,” said Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams. “I kept looking at the clock and thinking ‘come on clock.’ There are some things where we put ourselves in a hole. If we wouldn’t have done them, I think it would have been a lot more. They shot the free throws pretty good tonight and I think that helped them stay as close as it was.”
Neither team could seem to get the edge in the battle between the two District 8-6A foes until a late 8-0 spurt by the Lady Dawgs, paced by Griffon and Honea, gave Cove the lead for good.
“I was definitely feeling it today,” said Griffon. “My teammates and I were just focused on winning today, making each other better and just playing together. We’re just having fun this year and, on top of it, we’re getting wins. 
“It’s always huge to play Midway and it’s even bigger to beat them and that’s what we wanted to do. We came in with the mindset of winning. We wanted to put a beat down on them and I think we did good job.”
Strong plays in the paint by Powell, including a strong putback with just over a minute remaining, closed out the win for the Lady Dawgs (17-2 overall, 2-0 in District 8-6A).
“Our hustle definitely helped with that,” said Griffon. “Erica is going to give us 110 percent, 110 percent of the time. It really showed and paid off on that play.”
McAdams feels his team took control in the second half.
“I think the second half was the difference,” he said. “We made adjustments. We didn’t foul them as much and we did a little more team boxing out a little better. We also made some big shots. Erica came in and got some key rebounds. We talked about it at the half that everybody has to team rebound and everybody has to box out. We didn’t do a great job at it but we did a lot better in the second half.”
After an early run gave the Pantherettes a 15-8 lead with 2:08 left in the first period, Cove crawled back into the contest before both teams locked in a back-and-forth battle that kept the score within four points until the late run by Cove to seal the win.
Midway held a two-point lead at the half, 30-28, and Cove flopped that to a one-point advantage, 43-42, heading into the deciding frame.
A scoop and score by Midway’s Shamaryah Duncan knotted the game at 44-all after a made free throw by Cove’s Griffon started the fourth-quarter scoring.
Another trip to the stripe by sophomore Leah Powell gave the edge back to the Lady Dawgs but Duncan took the lead back for Midway, 47-45, on a three-pointer with 6:03 left.
A connection in the paint from Erica Powell to sophomore Kaysha McCloud then kick-started the 8-0 run that pushed Cove ahead.
A drive for a score by Honea and a steal by McCloud that resulted in two made free throws by Honea pushed Cove out front 51-47.
Another clutch rebound by McCloud kept the momentum with Cove along two more free throws by Griffon.
Consecutive plays by Midway’s J’lynn Gus pulled the Pantherettes back within a score before Powell took over for Cove.
After 1 for 2 free throws by Honea made it a three-point Cove advantage, an offense rebound by Erica Powell kept the Cove offense alive before she eventually finished the trip down court with a bucket for the 56-51 lead.
A pair of free throws by Gus again made it a one score contest, 56-53, with 1:39 left in the contest.
The putback by Erica Powell pushed Cove back out front 58-53 with 1:05 left and trips to the line by Griffon and Powell iced the contest 60-53.
Cove took the early led in the contest with a pair of free throws by Griffon for the 2-0 lead.
A three-pointer by Keziah Bachert started a 7-0 Midway run and plays in the paint by Duncan finished the run for a 7-2 Midway lead.
Drives by Cove’s Honea and Griffon and a 12-foot jumper by Leah Powell cut the Midway lead to three, 11-8, before drives by Jakoriah Long ballooned the Pantherettes’ lead back to seven, 15-8 with 2:28 left in the first.
A three by senior Mariyah Reynolds and a putback by Erica Powell again cut Midway’s lead back to three, 15-12, with 33 seconds left but a pair of late free throws by Bachert made it a 17-12 Midway lead after one. 
A steal by Reynolds resulted in a Honea trey to start the second half but Midway’s Reaghan Ridge answered right back with a three of her own for the 20-15.
Not to be outdone, Cove’s Reynolds banks a three in off glass on one trip down the floor and Griffon hits nothing but net from three-point land on the next trip down for the 21-20 Cove lead with 6”31 left.
Late 1 and 1 conversions by Janaiya Davis and Duncan made it a 30-26 lead after ties at 24 and 26 and two free throws by Cove’s Alex Britto made it a 30-28 game at the half. 
A putback by Midway’s Molly Weaver and a bucket by Long kept the Pantherettes in front until a drive and trey by Griffon and a three by Reynolds flipped the lead back to Cove, 36-34, with 5:18 left in the period. 
A free throw by McCloud and a 14-foot jumper by Erica Powell held off the Pantherettes’ surge and a nother three by Griffon pushed CVove’s lead to four, 42-38, with 2:31 left. 
A putback by Madison Burns and a two by Duncan for Midway and a free throw by Erica Powell for Cove closed out the third-quarter scoring for a 43-42 Cove lead heading into that final deciding frame for the no. 8 ranked Lady Dawgs.
“Of course we feel good but we can always improve and get better,” said Griffon. “To me, rankings have never mattered so we’ve got to get the ranking out of our heads and always play like we’re below whoever we’re playing; never like we’re on top. I think we’re good at doing that.”
Griffon finished with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists while Erica Powell had 10 points, six rebounds and three steals. Honea also chipped in 10 points and three boards. Leah Powell finished with five points, three rebounds and a steal. Reynolds finished with four points, five rebounds and an assist. McCloud finished with four points, seven rebounds and two steals. Brito added two points and a rebound.
“She is definitely our Energizer bunny,” McAdams said of Griffon. “The ball is in her hand and she controls the game for us. We try to stay basic but when she’s doing her thing she’s so quick and fast, dishing off and making shots when we need them. She’s just able to control the game for us.” 
The biggest factor in the team’s success is simple says McAdams.
“That’s the way we’ve been playing all year and I think that’s what makes this team different and that’s what has this team playing like we are and winning those tight games. We stick together. I wish we could get more of them into the game but I think the ones that aren’t in the game are still in the game. It’s a team thing. Even if you’re not in there, you are still a part of this team and you help us. 
“Our motto this year is together as one. If this girl rotates and she knows she has backside help she knows her friend is going to be there or if I shoot it Erica will get the rebound or Kaysha will or if I pass it to Mariyah she’ll knock that shot down. They have that confidence in each other and that’s definitely good and that’s what’s going to help us in district.”
Duncan led the Pantherettes with 15 points, followed by Gus (8), Davis (8), Bachert (5), Long (4), Weaver (4), Ridge (3), Caleyah Burrell (2) and Reese Rhodes (2).

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