The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (4-0) fattened their win total Friday night in the Noon Rotary Thanksgiving Classic when they defeated the Martin Luther King Lady Royals 64-50 at Whitthorne Middle School.
The Lady Royals and Lady Bulldogs experienced some testy moments on the court and engaged in a very physical game that featured 68 foul shots and 49 turnovers.
After Cornersville jumped out to an early eleven-point lead, Martin Luther King cut the deficit to 28-23 early in the third quarter. CHS, however, began to steadily pull away from the Lady Royals after that point and opened up a sixteen-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter before cruising to their fourth straight victory.
Despite taking home the win, Cornersville head coach Micah Landers was concerned with his team's execution against Martin Luther King.
"It was ugly and it didn't matter who I put in or took out. It stayed ugly," said Landers. "Anytime you play a game with that much physicality, you can develop some toughness so I guess that's a positive."
The Lady Bulldogs had trouble with MLK's quickness and committed 24 turnovers, but took advantage of their open looks and shot a torrid 61 percent from the field (20-33), which included a 4 of 11 effort from three-point range.
Martin Luther King, conversely, finished with a 14-3 edge on the offensive glass, but committed 25 turnovers, shot only 40 percent from the field (17-43), and hit just 1 of 9 three-point attempts.
The Lady Royals also failed to cash in at the foul line and made just 15 of 36 free throws overall, compared to a 20 of 32 effort at the charity stripe by the Lady Bulldogs.
Junior guard Sara Nelms continued her early season scoring binge and led Cornersville with a game high 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting.
Sophomore forward Haley Fagan tallied a career high 15 points for the Lady Bulldogs as well to go along with four rebounds and a blocked shot, while freshman point guard Makenzie Hopkins added 10 points, seven assists, and three steals.
Courtney Cook and Kristin Fagan also had six and five points respectively and Britny Wheeler notched four points before aggravating a foot injury late in the third quarter. Sarah King and Morgan Carroll rounded out the scoring for CHS with two points apiece.
Guard Ja'lyn Burr paced the Lady Royals with 17 points, while Grace Zimmerman and Ebiye Ekadi each had nine points.
Cornersville appeared to be in complete control of the game early on and held a 16-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter on the strength of eight points from Nelms, but MLK rattled off nine straight points to cut the deficit to 16-14 midway through the second.
Haley Fagan, Hopkins, and Nelms then nailed three consecutive treys to power a 10-0 CHS run and help stretch the Lady Bulldogs' lead to 26-14, before Martin Luther King closed the half with a 7-2 spurt to narrow the gap to 28-21 at the break.
In the third, the Lady Royals pulled within 28-23 on a jumper by Grace Zimmerman, but Cornersville restored order by out scoring MLK 20-11 over the next seven minutes behind eight points from Nelms and three points apiece from Hopkins and Kristin Fagan to open up a 48-34 advantage late in the period.
After Burr hit four straight free throws to trim the deficit to 48-38 early in the fourth, the Lady Bulldogs responded with an 8-2 burst, highlighted by a three-pointer from Hopkins, to forge a 56-40 advantage with 4:52 left before eventually claiming the 64-50 win.