Hopkins lifts Lady Dawgs to win
The Lady Bulldogs welcomed district foe Santa Fe (6-11, 5-4) to Cornersville on Tuesday night, looking to exact a little revenge on the Wildcats after the visitors beat the Bulldogs by 10 points during the second district game of the season early in December.
If living well is the best revenge then consider the Wildcats served as the Bulldogs' Madison Hopkins hit a bank shot at the buzzer to secure a 56-54 win.
Big battle ahead
The Lady Bulldogs have won six straight, placing Cornersville squarely in second place in District 11-A with a match-up with district leader looming on the horizon Friday night at Columbia Academy.
"Our confidence is building with every win," sophomore forward Emma Mitchell said. "Our shooting is coming along better and we're getting to know each other better as players."
The Lady Bulldogs (9-9, 7-2) moved to .500 on the year for the first time all season and now won eight of its last 10 games after starting the schedule 1-7.
"This win was huge," Cornersville coach Peyton Newton said. "We talk about here on out determines your seeding for the district tournament. And (Santa Fe) is a team we don't want to play in the first round. If we lost tonight that puts us one step closer to playing someone like Richland or Mt. Pleasant in the first round."
Terry leads way
The usual suspects led the Lady Bulldog charge as Morgan Terry dominated the middle with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Emma Mitchell added 13 points, and the hero of the night, Hopkins, chipped in eight points.
"We hustled hard tonight," Hopkins said. "We didn't play our best game, but I felt like the second half we came out and played a better half than what we did the first game against them. I think we finally realized how important this game was to us."
The Lady Bulldogs played aggressive on the offensive end all night and were rewarded with 36 trips to the free throw line of which they made 25, an avid sign of improvement as Cornersville had struggled with foul shots the entire season.
In the basket
"Free throws were the difference tonight," coach Newton said. "We've been talking about how bad free throws have been and we shot about 70 percent tonight from the line. We didn't rebound well, turned the ball over, and lost our player on defense again. But, we hit free throws tonight, so I think that was the big difference in getting this win."
The two teams played neck-and-neck the entire first half as Terry scored eight first quarter points and Katie Muston scored nine for the Wildcats to end the first quarter 11-10 in Santa Fe's favor.
Sarah Beth Prosser came off the bench and scored five points and grabbed five rebounds in just four minutes of play to keep the Lady Bulldogs even at 17 in the second quarter with the Wildcats.
Hopkins hit a runner in the lane, Terry took a rebound coast-to-coast for a layup, and Mitchell nailed a 3-pointer from the corner as CHS took command of the game with a 7-0 run to end the third quarter up 45-39.
The momentum from the third quarter carried over into the final frame as the Bulldogs held an eight point lead with under three minutes left in the game, but Jenna Pack nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 50-48 and a Muston jumper tied the game at 50 with 1:50 left.
Muston struck again with less than a minute to play, tying game again at 52-52, but the Wildcats inexplicably fouled Taylor Powers with 32 seconds left. Powers coolly stepped up to the free throw line and sank both shots for the two point edge. Powers returned the favor by fouling Muston on a reach-in with 18.4 seconds remaining and Muston calmly nailed both attempts.
The Bulldogs stalled on offense until Newton called time-out with eight seconds remaining to set up one final play.
"I could tell we were up here at the top of the key with eight seconds left and had nothing going," Newton explained. "I was afraid we wouldn't get a shot off or turn the ball over, so I felt like we had a better chance to call timeout and draw something up."
Hopkins took the ball on the inbound pass, pump-faked a 3-pointer before driving the lane and kissing the ball off the glass to give the Bulldogs a wild, hard fought win.
"I thought drive. There was like three seconds left on the clock, so I was just hoping to get fouled to be honest," Hopkins laughed.
"Madison just put her head down and made a move," Newton said. "She stayed yesterday after practice for about 10 minutes and worked on driving to the basket and that had to be the difference. The extra work paid off."
The Lady Bulldogs travel to Columbia Academy tonight with a chance to narrow the first place gap the Columbia Academy Lady Bulldogs (14-4, 9-0) hold by two games over Cornersville.
Cornersville 10 17 18 11-56
Santa Fe 11 17 11 15-54
Cornersville (56): Madison Hopkins 8, Taylor Powers 4, Carson Coble 7, Emma Mitchell 13, Morgan Terry 16, Gabby King 1, Sam Prosser 2, Sarah Beth Prosser 5.
Santa Fe (54): Abigail Chadwell 4, Jenna Pack 8, Kaleigh Dodson 1, Katie Muston 20, Jordan Steward 6, Hannah Warf 6, Christine Hood 3, Amelia Winchester 4.
Three-point goals: Cornersville (1) - Mitchell. Santa Fe (3) - Pack 2, Muston 1.
Halftime score-Santa Fe 28, Cornersville 27.