Lady Bulldogs fall to Loretto in season opener
Loretto once again had the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs' number, as CHS suffered their seventh straight loss at the hands of the Lady Mustangs when they dropped a 53-34 decision at home in their season opener.
Having knocked Cornersville out of the playoffs each of the last four years en route to making the Class A State Tournament three times during that span, Loretto built a 26-15 lead in the first half of Tuesday's contest before the Lady Bulldogs rallied to slice the deficit to 28-22 midway through the third quarter.
The Lady Mustangs, however, proved to be too strong for CHS down the stretch and outscored the Lady Bulldogs 25-12 over the final 11:10 to pull away for the 19-point victory.
Although the Lady Bulldogs shot 48 percent (11-of-23) from the field, knocked down 3-of-5 three-pointers, and outrebounded Loretto 26-19 overall, Cornersville struggled mightily against the Lady Mustangs full court press and committed 42 turnovers.
"They were tall and long. With us having small guards, their length gave us a lot of trouble because they trap really well," said CHS coach Peyton Newton.
Freshman forward Emma Mitchell made a strong debut and led the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points and three steals. Fellow freshman Morgan Terry followed Mitchell with seven points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots, while Madison Hopkins added five points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Carson Coble and Taylor Powers chipped in three points for Cornersville as well, and Carly Salsman and Breanne Dunkleman both had two points.
"This is a whole new group from last year. We've got a lot of young players so these girls weren't intimidated by what's happened the last four years," said Newton. "They came out and played hard. We played seven girls tonight and I thought all seven of them gave me everything they had."
With their press giving them a slew of extra scoring opportunities, the Lady Mustangs finished with 18 field goals on 35 percent shooting while hitting 3-of-12 three pointers and committing 19 turnovers.
Loretto forward Sabrie Sirmones proved to be a tough matchup for the Lady Bulldogs on both ends of the floor, as the 6'1" senior poured in a game high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting to go along with seven steals. Emma Brodie and Riley Littrell also notched nine and seven points respectively for the Lady Mustangs, while Hope Lamprecht and Rachel Burden both had five points.
Cornersville inched out to an early 2-0 lead on a layup by Hopkins before Loretto put together a 10-3 run to seize a 10-5 advantage late in the first quarter.
After CHS narrowed the gap to 12-10 at the end of the first quarter thanks to three free throws and a jump hook by Terry, the Lady Mustangs outscored CHS 14-5 in the second period to stretch their lead to 26-15 before Burden hit two free throws at the start of the second half to make it 28-15.
The Lady Bulldogs rattled off seven straight points with the help of a Coble trey and a pair of layups by Dunkleman and Mitchell to slice the deficit to 28-22, but Loretto responded with a 12-1 spurt to open up a 40-23 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Cornersville made one final charge at the start of the fourth period and engineered a 10-3 run behind five points from Mitchell, a Coble three, and a fade away jumper by Salsman to close the gap to 43-33 with 2:57 left.
The Lady Mustangs, though, kept CHS at arm's length during crunch time and outscored the Lady Bulldogs 9-1 the rest of the way to clinch their 53-34 victory.