By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs just needed to hold off the Shoemaker Lady Wolves for three minutes to notch their second district win to keep pace with the pack for one of the four playoff spots.
Unfortunately for Cove, Shoemaker had other plans.
The Lady Wolves outscored the Lady Dawgs 12-2 over the final three minutes to take the 47-44 win and put themselves in striking distance of the top four.
“We shot 9 for 30 in the paint and that’s tough,” said Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams. “We definitely fought. We had a chance to roll over at times but we didn’t. We just have to learn every time we step on the court.”
A lopsided foul count allowed the Lady Wolves to make six trips to the charity stripe in the final 1:55 of game time where they converted on 8 of the 12 attempts.
A three-pointer by Madison Griffon put Cove up 42-35 before things began to unravel for the Lady Dawgs.
The pressure defense of Shoemaker forced turnovers and gave the Lady Dawgs trouble down the stretch.
“Every time we step on the court, we’ve got to be ready to play,” said McAdams. “There were some things on the court tonight that I thought they weren’t ready for so I’ll take the blame on that.”
With 10 fouls against Cove to just three against the Lady Wolves, Shoemaker was able to add points to their tally with the clock stopped.
Three-straight trips to the free throw line by Shoemaker’s Makayla Gatewood resulted in 5 for 6 free throws to knot the game at 44-all
A missed shot in the paint by Cove gave Shoemaker the ball back where two more free throw shots, this time by Kiara Johnson, gave Shoemaker the 46-44 lead.
The Lady Dawgs (14-10, 1-4 in District 8-6A) had an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead, with 35.4 seconds left, but a 5-second violation on the inbound attempt by Cove allowed Shoemaker’s Kalayah Davis one last trip to the free throw line to convert one final free throw to ice the game for the Lady Wolves.
“It’s hard to teach it in practice,” said McAdams on dealing with the press. “You have to experience in a game in order to get that game experience. We just have to keep playing and we’ve got to grow. We’re asking these freshmen and sophomores to grow up fast and we just have to do it.”
The Lady Dawgs fell in a 6-0 hole early with six points in the paint by Gatewood and Zaiah Jackson but quickly knotted the game on a three-pointer by junior Mariyah Reynolds, a free throw by senior Chyanne Chapman and a coast-to-coast layup by sophomore Oni Boodoo.
Shoemaker finished the quarter on an 8-5 run for a 14-11 lead after eight minutes.
A three-pointer by Shoemaker’s Charlene Shepherd pushed the Lady Wolves’ lead to six, 17-11, to start the second quarter but the Lady Dawgs knotted the game on back-to-back three pointers by Reynolds and sophomore Madison Griffon and Chapman gave the Lady Dawgs the 19-17 lead on 2 for 4 free throws.
Shoemaker regained the lead on a 7-0 run behind the second three pointer by Shepherd and consecutive baskets by Azihonna Cox.
A three-pointer by freshman Madisen Honea pulled Cove back within two, 24-22 but two free throws by Gatewood gave Shoemaker a 26-22 advantage at the half.
The Lady Dawgs outscored the Wolves 15-4 in the third period to take a 37-30 lead into the final frame. Boodoo connected on a pair of putbacks and a three-pointer and senior Kayla McCloud scored two from the charity stripe and two more in the paint to put Cove in front 33-28.
Two free throws by Shoemaker’s Mauricea Mathis cut the lead to three before baskets by Cove freshman Kaysha McCloud and senior Dejhana Butler closed out the frame.
The Lady Wolves (15-11, 2-3) responded with a 12-5 run to tie the game at 42-all with 1:24 left before a 5-2 run closed the contest.
Gatewood led all scorers with 13 and Shepherd added 10 for Shoemaker.
Boodoo led the Lady Dawgs with 12 while Kayla McCloud added eight.
“I’m not making excuses for us but we’ve got nine or 10 girls over there that have never been in this position,” said McAdams. “We’ve got to be in this position in order to learn and grow from it.”
They must grow quickly as they close out the first round of 8-6A play at home against Harker Heights (4-10, 0-5) today before traveling to Killeen to play the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s no. 10-ranked Lady Roos (18-8, 5-0) currently riding a 13-game win streak after beating San Angelo Central 44-27 on Tuesday.
BULLDAWGS FALL AT SHOEMAKER 63-44
The Cove boys’ team didn’t fare any better on the road at Shoemaker as the Wolves outscored the Dawgs 36-24 in the second half to secure the win.
A slow start by Cove allowed the Wolves to take an 18-6 lead after the first quarter.
Cove narrowed the gap to five, 20-15 on a layup by Neyland Block and trailed by just seven, 27-20 at the break.
Shoemaker (13-7, 2-1) pushed their lead to 14 on three-pointers by Antoine James and a steal for a layup by Christopher Barnett.
Cove (13-9, 1-2) again cut the Wolves’ led to single digits, 48-42, on a drive by sophomore Quinton Ford midway through the fourth.
The Wolves then closed the game on a 15-2 run for the win.
Javon Levi had a game-high 18 points and J’wan Roberts scored 11 to lead the Wolves.
Ford led the Bulldawgs with 12 points and Block added 10.
The Dawgs return to action tonight on the road against Harker Heights (10-10, 1-2).