Lady Bulldogs pound Mt. Pleasant

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Cornersville's Brooke Holt knocks down a three-pointer in the first quarter against Mt. Pleasant. Photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (16-10) advanced to the District 11-A tournament championship game for the fourth straight year by thrashing tourney host Mt. Pleasant 54-31 in the semifinals on Thursday night to record their 11th straight victory over the Lady Tigers.

Mt. Pleasant (13-13) had played CHS tough in their two meetings during the regular season, but the Lady Bulldogs put their foot on the Lady Tigers' neck early in Thursday's contest and built a 31-16 lead through the first two quarters of play.

Cornersville was never seriously threatened in the second half and outscored Mt. Pleasant 23-15 over the final two periods to coast to the 23-point victory.

Bolstered by a 6-of-8 effort from three-point range, the Lady Bulldogs finished with 18 field goals on 45 percent shooting and knocked down 12-of-15 free throws.

Center Ashley Umbles and point guard Makenzie Hopkins both poured in 13 points to lead CHS' offensive attack with Umbles recording nine rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. Brooke Holt also tallied 10 points and Ashley Warren added eight points and four steals. Kaitlyn Rogers notched seven points for the Lady Bulldogs as well, while Kaleigh Welch and Martha Jane McMasters chipped in two and one point respectively.

"I don't know how many games we'll shoot like that from the outside, but I think we have a pretty good arsenal offensively and have a greater sense of urgency now that the playoffs have started," said Cornersville coach Micah Landers.

CHS, meanwhile, limited the Lady Tigers to just 13 field goals on 29 percent shooting, which included a 2-of-8 performance from beyond the arc. The Lady Bulldogs also recorded 12 steals and forced 23 Mt. Pleasant turnovers while the Lady Tigers hit just 3-of-14 foul shots.

Having broke the 20-point mark in four of her last five games, shooting guard Emily McNeese paced Mt. Pleasant with 14 points. Brittany Frierson and India Frierson followed McNeese with 10 and five points respectively.

"We got a solid game out of everyone defensively. It was an outstanding team effort and we showed a lot of hustle tonight," said Landers. "I thought we did a good job containing McNeese. Ashley Warren did a great job of guarding her."

After Cornersville grabbed an early 4-0 lead on a pair of jumpers by Umbles, McNeese hit a three to narrow the gap to 4-3 before the Lady Bulldogs put together a 12-4 run with the help of two treys from Hopkins, a Rogers three-point play, and a three from Holt to open up a 16-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Following a bank shot by India Frierson, which trimmed the deficit to 16-9 early in the second period, CHS pushed their lead to 23-10 midway through the stanza on the strength of a Hopkins trey and layups from Rogers and Warren.

Mt. Pleasant closed the gap to 23-14 late in the second quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 spurt, highlighted by threes from Warren and Holt, to forge a 31-14 advantage prior to taking a 31-16 lead into the break.

The Lady Tigers outscored CHS 12-8 through first seven and a half minutes of the third period to whittle deficit to 39-28 before Holt and Warren each sandwiched two free throws around an Umbles three-point play to stretch Cornersville's lead to 46-28 midway through the fourth.

After Mt. Pleasant tallied the next three points to make it 46-31 with 2:56 left, the Lady Bulldogs ended the game with an 8-0 run behind four free throws and layups from Umbles and Welch to cap their 54-31 triumph.