Lady Bulldogs pull off improbable comeback against Collinwood

Friday, January 9, 2009

Some wins feel a lot better than others. The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs displayed their resiliency Tuesday night when they pulled out a dramatic 56-54 road victory over the Collinwood Trojanettes after overcoming a 17-point first quarter deficit.

Despite outplaying Collinwood (6-5) for much of the final three periods, the Lady Bulldogs still trailed the Trojanettes 54-53 in the waning moments of the contest. Cornersville shooting guard Sara Nelms, however, drilled a clutch three-pointer with twenty seconds left to put the Lady Bulldogs up by two before Collinwood came up empty on their final possession.

"I just knew we needed to score on our final possession in order to win the game," said Nelms. "It felt pretty good to hit the game winning shot. It felt awesome."

With the victory Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs completed the season sweep of the Trojanettes and improved their record to 11-3.

"I have supreme confidence in my kids. I look at their body language and see how they react to the situation. You have to give them a lot of credit for continuing to fight after the start we had," said Cornersville head coach Micah Landers.

After hitting 9 of 14 field goal attempts in the first quarter, Collinwood shot only 34 percent (11-32) the rest of the way to finish 20 of 46 from the floor overall, which included a 4 of 16 effort from three-point range.

Cornersville, conversely, shot just 35 percent (8-23) in the first half, but hit 11 of 20 field goal attempts over the final two periods to finish 19 of 43 from the floor, highlighted by a 7 of 19 effort from beyond the arc.

Lady Bulldog center Sarah King turned in her second straight dominant performance in the paint, as she poured in a game high 21 points on 8 of 9 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, four steals, two blocked shots, and one assist.

Nelms also added 17 points and five assists, while Haley Fagan tallied 10 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two blocked shots. Brittny Wheeler (three points), Morgan Carroll (three points), Makenzie Hopkins (one point), and Nina Endsley (one point) rounded out the scoring for Cornersville.

Kara Jones led three Collinwood players in double figures with 20 points, while Summer Thompson and Trista Rich had 12 and 11 points respectively.

The Trojanettes appeared they might run the Lady Bulldogs out of the gym early on and forged a 24-7 lead late in the first quarter with the help of four treys.

Cornersville though withstood the Collinwood onslaught and put together a 17-9 run on the strength of six points apiece from King and Nelms and a Wheeler three-pointer to slice the deficit to 33-24 with 2:11 left in the second period.

After the Trojanettes scored the final four points of the half to take a 37-24 advantage into the break, the Lady Bulldogs dominated the third quarter and outscored Collinwood 15-5 in the stanza thanks to five points apiece from King and Fagan and a Nelms trey to narrow the gap to 42-39.

The Trojanettes pushed their lead to 50-43 midway through the fourth, but Fagan nailed a three from the left wing before King scored on a layup to whittle the deficit to 50-48.

Following a basket by Jones, King hit a driving layup and Hopkins made one of two free throws to close the gap to 52-51 with 2:10 remaining.

Collinwood stretched their lead to 54-51 on a field goal by Rich, but King scored on an offensive put back to make it 54-53 before Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one with forty-five seconds left.

On Cornersville's ensuing possession, King drove into the lane and forced the Trojanette defense to collapse down before dishing the ball out to Nelms, who buried a trey from the right wing to give the Lady Bulldogs a 56-54 advantage.

"There's not another kid that you want to have the ball in their hands on the final possession and to take that shot," said Landers.

Collinwood still had one last chance to tie the game, but Trojanette guard Blakely Robertson missed badly on an off balance jumper at the buzzer.