After eliminating Cornersville from the playoffs last season in the Region 6-A tournament en route to advancing to the Class A State semifinals, Wayne County (3-1) handed the Lady Bulldogs (4-1) their first loss of the year Saturday by defeating CHS 60-49 in the Noon Rotary Thanksgiving Classic at Columbia Central High School.
Having already defeated Perry County and Collinwood this season, the Lady Bulldogs held a four-point lead early in the third quarter and appeared they might knock off their third District 12-A power in a span of eleven days. The Lady Wildcats, however, came roaring back and outscored Cornersville 23-7 over the next eight minutes to pull ahead 45-33 with 6:42 left in the fourth period before staving off a late CHS rally with the help of some clutch foul shooting down the stretch.
The Lady Bulldogs came into the contest shooting 46 percent from the field as a team for the season, but hit just 16 of 52 shots against Wayne County, which included a 6 of 18 effort from three-point range.
Cornersville did hold a slight 10-8 edge on the offensive glass, but the Lady Wildcats out rebounded CHS 32-28 overall and forced 19 Lady Bulldog turnovers.
"I tell the girls to go out and do the little things well. If you have 19 turnovers and get out rebounded you have no chance against a good team. We just didn't do the little things well," said Cornersville head coach Micah Landers. "I think Wayne County was very well prepared and took away some things we like to do, but we had some good looks at the basket. We just didn't knock them down."
The Lady Wildcats, conversely, shot 42 percent from the floor overall (20-48) despite missing 14 of 20 attempts from beyond the arc, and knocked down 14 of 15 free throws, which included a 9 of 10 performance in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore forward Haley Fagan came on strong late and scored 11 of her team high 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead Cornersville while also collecting five rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots, and a steal.
Shooting guard Sara Nelms followed Fagan with 12 points, five assists, four steals, and four rebounds, and center Sara King tallied 11 points, nine rebounds, and one blocked shot.
Makenzie Hopkins and Kristin Fagan also added six and four points for the Lady Bulldogs, while Courtney Cook had two points.
Wayne County center Jessica Hammonds was a force in the paint, as she poured in a game high 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting and pulled down 18 rebounds, including 10 in the fourth period alone.
Kelsey Risner and Jordan Risner also scored 15 and 12 points respectively for the Lady Wildcats, while Carly Daniel had eight points.
Wayne County jumped out to an early 11-7 lead, but CHS ended the first quarter with an 8-2 spurt thanks to five points from Nelms and a trey by Hopkins in the closing seconds of the stanza to seize a 15-13 advantage.
After the Lady Wildcats outscored Cornersville 9-2 over the next six minutes to pull ahead 22-17 late in the second period, Haley Fagan buried a three-pointer from the top of the key before King hit a lay up at the buzzer to knot the game at 22-22 at the break.
In the third, King scored a couple of lay ups in the first minute of the quarter to give the Lady Bulldogs a 26-22 lead, but Wayne County went on a 19-5 run to grab a 41-31 advantage late in the stanza.
Nelms made a pair of foul shots to trim the deficit to 41-33 at the end of the third before Hammonds scored the first four points of the fourth quarter on two offensive put backs to stretch the Lady Wildcats' lead to twelve.
After Hopkins converted a three-point play and Haley Fagan and Nelms each hit two free throws to narrow the gap to 47-40 midway through the fourth, Fagan caught fire from the outside and nailed three treys over the next four minutes to pull Cornersville within 54-49.
The Lady Wildcats though sealed the game at the charity stripe by hitting six foul shots in the final forty-two seconds of the contest to salt away their 60-49 victory.