Lady Bulldogs pay back Richland
After a one-year hiatus, the District 11-A tournament championship trophy returned to Cornersville on Monday night when the Lady Bulldogs defeated archrival Richland 47-33 in the title game at Columbia Academy.
The top seeded Lady Raiders (18-8) had won the last four meetings against CHS, which included a 40-29 victory in last year's District tournament championship game, but the Lady Bulldogs (17-11) seemed bent on reversing that trend on Monday.
Using stifling defense and an efficient offensive attack, Cornersville built a 23-17 lead in the first half before outscoring the Lady Raiders 24-16 over the final two quarters to pull away for the 14-point win.
'We told you so'
"All I have to say is we told you so. There was so much doubt this season and nobody believed we could do this, but we did," said CHS senior guard Brooke Holt. "This is exactly the game I wanted to play coming into the season. I didn't know we were going to lose to them twice this season, but this is the game I wanted."
With Monday's triumph, the Lady Bulldogs claimed their fourth District tournament title in five years and will host Loretto in the first round of the Region 6-A tourney on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
"This is huge," said Cornersville coach Peyton Newton. "We lost the first two games against Richland this year so we immediately reset our goals and began focusing on winning the District tournament. The girls were hungry tonight. I didn't have to pump them up."
Although they once again struggled at the foul line and hit just 9-of-25 overall, the Lady Bulldogs continued to convert on their scoring chances from the field and shot a blistering 53 percent (17-of-32) from the floor, highlighted by a 4-of-7 effort from three-point range.
MVP leads way
Holt led the Lady Bulldogs with a game high 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting en route to earning tournament MVP honors. Morgan Terry followed Holt with 12 points and Carson Coble added seven points. Ashley Umbles and Samantha Prosser tallied six points apiece as well with Umbles grabbing nine rebounds, while Madison Hopkins chipped in two points and six steals. Breanne Dunkleman rounded out the scoring for Cornersville with one point.
The Lady Bulldogs turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season and limited Richland to a mere 10 field goals on 23 percent shooting, which included a 3-of-15 effort from beyond the arc. The Lady Raiders did hold a 11-7 edge on the offensive glass, but Cornersville outrebounded Richland 28-25 overall.
Ashton Edwards and Shannon Higgins paced the Lady Raiders with 11 points apiece, while Shelby Allen added six points.
"We played a 2-3 zone the whole time, but I told them to be ready to play any defense if we needed to. Luckily we didn't have to because we moved well in our zone," said Newton. "The key was containing Edwards. I told the girls to just hold their ground and force her to hit tough shots without fouling her."
Richland inched out to a 6-5 lead midway through the first quarter before the Lady Bulldogs went on a 10-3 run with the help of a Coble trey and baskets from Holt, Terry, and Prosser to pull ahead 15-9 early in the second period.
The Lady Raiders rattled off five straight points to narrow the gap to 15-14, but Cornersville outscored Richland 8-2 over the next 3:30 behind four points from Terry, two Prosser free throws, and a layup by Coble to stretch their lead to 23-16 late in the half.
Ahead for good
After the Lady Raiders trimmed the deficit to 23-17 at the break on a free throw by Izzie Patterson, Holt nailed two threes early in the third period to give the Lady Bulldogs a 29-17 advantage.
Richland tallied 10 of the next 12 points to close the gap to 31-27 late in the third period, but Cornersville repelled the Lady Raider charge by putting together a 10-0 run on the strength of baskets from Coble, Terry, Holt, and Hopkins to forge a 41-27 lead with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Higgins hit two foul shots to cut the deficit to 41-29 before the Lady Bulldogs outscored Richland 6-4 the rest of way thanks to a offensive put back by Terry and two free throws apiece from Umbles and Holt to cap their 47-33 triumph.