Lady Bulldogs pull away from Culleoka
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (19-7) advanced to the District 11-A tournament title game for the fifth straight year by defeating fourth seeded Culleoka 46-25 in the semifinals at Richland High School on Thursday night to record their 22nd consecutive win over the Lady Warriors.
With top sub Haley Stacey missing her fifth straight game due to illness, Cornersville was also without the services of center Ashley Umbles, who was nursing a shoulder injury, while point guard Kaleigh Welch was only able to play a handful of minutes because of sickness.
The short handed Lady Bulldogs, however, were able to overcome some early adversity and built a 24-17 lead in the first half before outscoring Culleoka 22-8 over the final two quarters to claim the 21-point victory.
Although they shot only 34 percent (13-of-38) from the field overall, Cornersville knocked down 6-of-18 three-point attempts and outscored the Lady Warriors 14-5 at the foul line.
The Lady Bulldogs did commit 19 turnovers, but outrebounded Culleoka 33-19 and held a 12-10 edge on the offensive glass.
Despite turning the ball over just nine times, the Lady Warriors (10-19) mustered just 10 field goals on 22 percent shooting, which included a 0-of-14 effort from beyond the arc.
"We came out here without two starters and our top bench player and still won by 20 points. I'll take that every time. It wasn't pretty but our effort was good," said Cornersville coach Micah Landers. "I was really pleased with our defense. I knew we were going to struggle some offensively, but we played hard on defense."
Junior guard Brooke Holt nailed three treys and led three Lady Bulldog players in double figures with 15 points and six rebounds. Brittany Umbles followed Holt with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Kaitlyn Rogers tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Kelsey Wortham, Welch, and Britton Stewart rounded out the scoring for Cornersville with three, two, and one point respectively.
"Brooke, Brittany, and Kaitlyn all played well for us tonight and they had too. Brooke hit some big shots for us in the first half and Kaitlyn and Ashley helped us pull away in the second half," said Landers.
Ashton Kolter paced Culleoka with seven points, while Hayley Foster and Ashleigh Kelly both had six points.
The Lady Warriors inched out to an early 6-4 lead before the Lady Bulldogs outscored Culleoka 10-5 over the next three and a half minutes behind a pair of threes from Holt, two Rogers free throws, and a layup by Brittany Umbles to pull ahead 14-11 late in the first quarter.
After the Lady Warriors notched five straight points to grab a 16-14 advantage early in the second period, Cornersville closed the first half with a 10-1 run, highlighted by treys from Wortham and Holt, to take a 24-17 lead into the break.
The Lady Bulldogs then opened up a 29-17 advantage early in the third quarter thanks to a Brittany Umbles layup and a three from Rogers.
Culleoka tallied five of the next seven points to trim the deficit to 31-22 late in the third period, but Rogers drilled a trey from the right corner as time expired in the stanza to give Cornersville a 34-22 lead.
In the fourth, the Lady Bulldogs blew the game open by outscoring the Lady Warriors 12-0 through the first 6:27 of the quarter on the strength of six points from Brittany Umbles and four points from Holt to forge a 46-22 advantage before coasting to the 46-25 win.