Lady Bulldogs ride wave of emotion
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs beat Eagleville 72-67 in overtime, but had more on their minds then basketball Thursday night in Cornersville. They had the memory of their fallen classmate, Jamie Drenkhahn, on their minds and they honored her before the game, during the game, and after the game.
Drenkhahn, a varsity cheerleader, was tragically killed in an automobile accident Jan. 26. Each of the players had the initials "JED" written on their wrists in Jamie's honor.
A moment of silence was observed for Drenkhahn before the contest and then the Lady Dawgs pointed to the heavens during pre-game introductions to show they were all in this together.
It was also homecoming night in Cornersville, and the 2007-'08 homecoming queen, Tori Wolaver, would play a huge role as the emotional leader. "We put Jamie's initials on our wrists to keep her presence here with us tonight. We got this win for Jamie," Wolaver said after the game.
With Cornersville trailing 7-4, Wolaver took a pretty bounce pass in the blocks from Sara Nelms and kissed it off the glass for two points. Wolaver stole the rock on the Lady Eagles' next possession and went coast to coast to light up the crowd and give Cornersville an 8-7 lead.
The Lady Dawgs fell behind again and Nelms answered with a three-pointer to tie the game at 11 and then tied it at 13 to end the quarter, just beating the buzzer.
Sarah King went to work in the low blocks to begin the second quarter, sparking the Lady Bulldogs to a 7-0 run and a 20-13 margin. With the score 20-15, Nelms would steal the ball twice and Sara Barnett once in Eagleville's next three possessions to burst out to a 26-15 lead.
Give credit to Eagleville. They could have folded, but went on an 11-0 run to end the quarter and tie the game at the half, 26-26.
The Lady Eagles took the lead in the third quarter 32-30, but Wolaver answered with some tough play in the paint, scoring on four consecutive foul attempts to see-saw the lead back to the Lady Dawgs at 34-32.
King and Nelms would combine on a nine-point run for a 43-32 lead before Eagleville had another quarter-ending gut-check, scoring four points in the last 30 seconds to trail, 43-36.
The emotional wave was strong, with inspiring play from both squads over the next 10 minutes.
Eagleville pulled to within six points on a Kayla Pugh bucket and seemed to be charging, but Cornersville senior Jessica King stopped the assault with long three-pointer from the top of the key that built the lead back to nine at 48-39.
Once again Eagleville refused to quit, coming back to within four points when Jennilee Lenker scored in the post and was fouled, converting the three-point play. Lenker and Sara King combined for 44 points in the low post and had a classic battle the entire contest
The Eagles would cut the lead to three points at 48-45 on a GeriJo Lewis foul shot. But King sparked the Lady Dawgs with a hustle play in which she missed an easy lay-up at one end and raced full speed to the defensive block and stepped in for a charge that fired up the packed crowd and the Lady Dawgs
Cornersville had a 10-point, 57-47 lead with just over two minutes to go when Eagleville got hot and got some good luck to force the game into overtime. Eagleville would begin to foul under the two-minute mark and made some clutch buckets as well. But with just three seconds left on the clock and trailing 61-59, all the Lady Dawgs would have to do was inbound the ball from underneath their basket to seal the win.
Normally, the course of action is to throw over top for the homerun and to run out the clock. Unluckily, the high pass came in contact with the net of one of the folded up baskets and the ball was awarded to Eagleville.
Lenker sent the game into overtime with a turnaround jumper in the lane with 0.2 seconds on the clock.
The Lady Dawgs reached from within and outscored Eagleville 11-5 in OT with Sara Barnett getting one of her patented knifing lay-ups to open the period.
Wolaver was also huge in OT, stealing the ball on consecutive possessions and scoring four points.
Nelms really stepped up with seven points in the period, going 5-6 from the free throw time in the extra period for the Lady Dawgs, who moved 13-9 on the season.
Nelms finished with a team-high 22 points, Sara King had 18, the homecoming queen had 15, Barnett was in double digits with 10, Jessica King had three, and Kristin Fagan and Morgan Carroll had two points each.
"I'm just really glad we won this game," Wolaver said, "especially because of Jamie and because of homecoming."