by Anthony S. Puca
The Cornersville High School basketball teams held their home openers last Tuesday night against Collinwood and it turned out to be a wild night as the boys won a double overtime thriller after the girls ran into a double headed monster in their game.
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs came into the game 1-0 after beating Hampshire Monday night 61-51 and ran into a Collinwood team that sports a tandem of players that rank with the best in the state. Junior shooting guard Abbey Andrews and her long time friend and classmate Lesley Daniel are a dynamic duo that opposing teams will have nightmares about the entire season if they play to the level they displayed last night.
The game was less than four minutes old when the two girls from Wayne County took over the game and sealed the fate of the young Lady Dawg squad. Andrews and Daniel controlled the early action by playing with poise and skill and accounted for twelve of the twenty points the Lady Trojans scored in the first quarter as they doubled the Dawgs 20-10.
The second quarter was not much different as Collinwood jumped out again to increase the margin during the stanza. Cornersville tried to make a run midway through the quarter when Freshman Sarah Nelms came off the bench and sparked the home team with a long three bomb, a steal and a driving lay-up, and a beautiful dish to Kristan Fagan that cut the deficit to nine and gave the home team a ray of hope. The girls of Collinwood would have none of it as they asserted themselves in a big way by scoring eight straight points before Cornersville would tally again. The half ended with an Andrews block and the home team was in a deep 42-23 hole.
The Lady Bulldogs came out of the locker room with a lot of fire, but they could not come back as they turned the ball over too many times to mount a charge and Collinwood again stretched the lead to as many as 23 points before Lady Trojan Head coach Jason Morris took Andrews out of the game. The quarter belonged to Daniel as she took the rock and controlled the action by dishing and scoring as she accounted for nine points in the quarter. The lady Dawgs were outscored 17-9 in the stanza and trailed twenty seven points going into the final frame, 59-32.
Coach Micah Landers' Lady Bulldog team showed no quit in them the entire night as they fought just as hard in the fourth quarter as they did at the opening buzzer. There are not many teams in the Mid-State that could have withstood the barrage from the two Trojan girls. According to Cornersville Head Coach Micah Landers, "Andrews is a definite Ohio Valley Conference prospect" and she played to that level of talent the entire night. The Lady Bulldog squad tried to lasso the guards from Collinwood and gave all they had, but it was in vain as these two talented girls led their team to a 68-44 victory.
Coach Landers said after the game, "The Collinwood squad is a legitimate State contender". He added, "Time to time, young teams get rattled and start watching the scoreboard. We forced a lot of stuff by being impatient and we never really made them play defense." Asked about her on and off the court relationship with Daniels after the game, Andrews said, "We have been friends for a long time and have played together just as long. We have always stuck together as the only classmates (juniors) on the team."
The Lady Dawgs played their hearts out in the contest and will certainly bounce back to have a great season, but hopefully will not have to face the likes of the Lady Trojan combo very soon. Andrews finished with 18 points for the night and Daniels led the Trojans with 21. Sara Barnett scored a team high 14 and Kristin Fagan had 8 for the Lady Dawgs.
a wild one
The men's contest was a game that will be etched in the memories of Bulldog sports fans for many years to come as high drama took the stage in the Cornersville gymnasium in their home opener.
This was a game that started out with action from end to end and a level of intensity that is rare this time of year. Tyler Cole opened the scoring book for the Bulldogs on a lay-up and the game was on. The action was crisp and with the score 6 to 5 in favor of Collinwood. Bulldog guard Kyle Hammack set his sights from long range to bury two long range three bombs to set the tone for the night.
Collinwood was unfazed as they stayed in their game by feeding the ball low to Tyler Thompson in what would be their game plan for the night. The first quarter ended with the hometown Dawgs leading 18-16.
The Bulldogs came out in the second quarter and played spectacular ball, with great defense and a ball control offense that saw them open up as much as seven point lead.
Five different players scored for the Dawgs in the quarter as they spread the ball around and kept the Trojans off balance. Cole and Thompson battled down in the low post and the good spirited war raged the entire night. Cole got the best of it in this quarter as he scored five points, blocked a shot, and diverted the attention of other Trojan defenders to give his outside sharp shooters, Hammack and Stephen Nelms good looks at the basket. The half ended with the Bulldogs looking good and a seven point lead at 31-24.
The third quarter started with Thompson scoring two baskets from underneath to cut the lead to four before the hometown team went on another run led by Nelms and Cole that stretched it to as much as eleven points.
Trojan guard Jake Brewer then went ballistic as he scored on three consecutive possessions midway through to bring Collinwood right back into the contest at 42-39. Not to be outdone, Bulldog guard Garrett Stiles got red hot and made a bucket on a follow up and then gave the Bulldog faithful a touch of what would happen later as he hit an unbelievable fall away jumper at the third quarter buzzer, got fouled and made the free throw to give the Bulldogs a 47-39 cushion going into the fourth.
The Trojans from Wayne County made an early fourth quarter run behind some great inside moves by Thompson as they scored eight of the first ten points to cut the deficit to one at 51-50. Not to be outdone, Bulldog big man Cole responded with a block on Thompson and two buckets of his own to stretch the margin back to five. The teams traded buckets for a few trips down the floor and with two minutes to go it looked as if Cornersville would win.
Collinwood scored two at the foul line and then called timeout with 1:12 to play to put the press on the Bulldogs. After a Cornersville miss, Trojan sharpshooter Jake Brewer hit a leaping leaner in the lane to bring his squad to within two points.
The Trojan full-court press worked on the next series as the Bulldogs turned the ball over and fouled Brewer, who calmly hit both attempts to tie the game at 55. Cornersville had two chances to move ahead with under a minute to go but could not convert from the line and after a last second desperation shot by Collinwood at the end of regulation the game went into overtime, tied at 55.
Collinwood came right out of the huddle and scored three points before Helms buried a three to tie the score at 58-58. The Trojans went up one from line again and then Garret Stiles skied for an amazing put back of a missed shot to electrify the crowd and give the Dawgs a one point margin. Helms then drove to the basket on Cornersville's next possession and was fouled on the play. He converted one of two to give the home squad a two point lead that would be quickly erased as Brewer hit a clutch shot again to tie the score. Tyler Cole then fought off three Trojan defenders to score from underneath to give the Bulldogs a two point lead with 19.4 seconds left.
Collinwood went to their bread and butter again as they fed the ball to the low post and Thompson converted to send the game into a second overtime period. The entire gymnasium was in frenzy as they knew they were witnessing a game for the ages.
Jimmy Civils started the second extra period with a beautiful dish to fellow Bulldog Stiles, who drove for a lay-up and was fouled. He converted the penalty shot and the Bulldogs led by three. The teams traded baskets on the next three times down the floor and neither team would give ground as the margin stayed at three.
After a Bulldog turnover, Thompson swished a shot from the low post to cut the margin to just one point. Cornersville could not convert on their trip down the floor and bread and butter man, Thompson scored again with 1:03 on the clock to give the Trojans a one point lead.
The crowd was crazy as the Bulldogs missed three chances from close range with just over 10 seconds left and the Trojans seemed to have victory at hand as the Bulldogs fouled Brewer with 8.1 left in the game. Brewer missed the first foul shot, but converted the second to give Collinwood a two point cushion and send Cornersville into their last timeout with only 8.1 seconds left.
In the huddle, Coach Adrian Wilson told his team, "If they play man defense, push the ball up and kick it to a shooter." Wilson called the play to perfection and Kyle Hammack took the inbounds pass, raced up floor and passed to Stephen "Ice Man" Nelms who rose up and buried the three bomb for the win as time expired and sent a shockwave of euphoria into the home section.
After the game, Nelms said, "I was just the first one open and I just shot and knew I had made it. It felt pretty good, I had never hit a game winner in my life." He gleefully added, "My teammates told me they loved me after the shot."
It was one of those games that was difficult to see a team lose because of how hard each fought the entire night and Coach Wilson stated that both squads "put their guts on the floor and we knew they were very good and we were able to weather the storm to win a game that was a great early season test." Wilson added, "It seemed like five O.T.'s to me." The "Ice Man" led Cornersville with 20 points and Cole and Stiles poured in 18 each. For the visiting Trojans, Thompson and Brewer each had 21 points in their team's gallant effort.