Lady Bulldogs nip Columbia Academy

Sunday, December 18, 2016
Cornersville guard Madison Hopkins, who scored 10 points and led the Bulldogs with five assists, leads the fast break against Columbia Academy. Photos by Caylee Porter

The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs had a chance to gain its first signature win of the young season with a trip to its namesake's home court at Columbia Academy on Tuesday night after winning its last three games against opponents with a combined 6-13 record.

And for the first time in four tries dating back to the 2014-15 season, Cornersville (4-3, 3-0) came away with a win over longtime rival Columbia Academy (2-5, 1-1) by a 56-52 score.

"We came in focused," CHS coach Peyton Newton said. "We knew we had to play one of our better games. That's a good ball team in there. That's a proud team in our locker room right now, an excited locker room."

"We're 3-0 (in the district) and we came over here and beat them," Newton added. "This is a tough place to win. Everybody did their job exactly the way we asked them to and we had to come in mentally prepared and we did and again, I couldn't be more proud of them."

The Bulldogs started the season with a 0-3 non-district schedule in which the southern Marshall County squad averaged a meager 23 points per game, but after a 75-23 thrashing of Zion Academy, Cornersville has won three straight district games by averaging 63 points per game in the wins.

"We've gotten more comfortable with each other now as the season gets going," senior point guard Madison Hopkins said. "The more we play together the more we gel and the more we know what each other is going to do and honestly we're playing together as a team instead of playing for ourselves."

Junior forward Sam Prosser continued an explosive junior campaign by leading the Lady Dawgs with 18 points, four rebounds, and three steals and Morgan Terry turned in another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Cornersville freshman Payton Salsman, who added valuable minutes off the bench for the Lady Bulldogs, 'D's up against Jordyn Lentz.

Cornersville received stellar back court play from the duo of Hopkins and Taylor Powers, who each contributed 10 points.

Columbia Academy was led by 20 Grace Gerlach points and 14 points from Kensie Hobbs.

Cornersville was hot from the get-go as Powers knocked down a 3-pointer and a short jumper for an 8-5 lead with just over four minutes ticked off the first quarter clock.

Freshman guard Payton Salsman nailed a foul line jumper with three seconds left in the opening frame and the Lady Bulldogs held a 14-9 lead heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter belonged to Sam Prosser, who scored seven points in the period, including a steal leading to a coast-to-coast layup for the Bulldogs biggest lead of the night at 30-18 with 1:08 left in the half.

Gerlach managed to drain a triple with 32 seconds left in the second quarter and the 12 point lead shrank to 30-23 as the first half came to a close and Newton braced his troops for a typical Columbia Academy rally.

"We had to stay focused, we knew they were going to make runs," Newton said. "We talked about that all week--it was going to be a game of runs. They're going to have theirs and we're gonna have ours. We just need to make sure we had more."

The Columbia Academy run came immediately at the start of the second half by way of a suffocating full court press.

Columbia Academy outscored Cornersville 16-11 in the third and finally pulled ahead 38-36 on a Zoe Johnson layup with just over two minutes remaining in the period, but CHS weathered the storm and regained the lead on Powers' second triple of the night with 32 seconds left in the frame.

"We're working better together and communicating better than we did in the first few games," Powers said. "The game plan was to play as a team and I think we did very good. I think we played as a team and that led to the win."

The two teams went back in forth in the final frame, but Hopkins scored seven of her 10 points in the fourth quarter including 4-for-5 from the free throw line and Sam Prosser drained 5-of-6 from the charity stripe to close out a close four-point victory.

"We got the early lead and then we kind of relaxed a little bit and let them come back," Hopkins said. "I think it helped that leaders stepped up on the court and we pulled it together and finished as a team."

The Lady Bulldogs look to remain atop District 11-A with Richland as the only two undefeated teams left in the district after a tough road trip against Mount Pleasant (4-4, 2-1) on Friday night.

Cornersville 14 16 11 15-56

Columbia Academy 9 14 16 13-52

Cornersville (56): Samantha Prosser 18, Morgan Terry 14, Madison Hopkins 10, Taylor Powers 10, Brooke Defoe 2, Payton Salsman 2

3-point goals (4): Taylor Powers 2, Madison Hopkins, Samantha Prosser

Columbia Academy (52): Grace Gerlach 20, Kensie Hobbs 14, Jordyn Lentz 6, Brittany Adair 5, Zoe Johnson 4, Scout Spear 3

3-point goals (2): Gerlach, Spear

Halftime score: Cornersville 30, Columbia Academy 23