Lady Bulldogs start slow, finish strong
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs learned an important lesson Tuesday night in its quest for its first district tournament championship in three years--don't take any opponent for granted.
Coming into the contest with Culleoka the Lady 'Dawgs remained locked in second place in 11A with Mount Pleasant at one district loss and a critical matchup against first place Richland on Friday night which may have led to the slow start on Tuesday.
With the Raiders possibly on the Lady Bulldogs mind, the Warriors jumped out to two-point lead after one quarter and went into halftime down just six points before Cornersville woke up and to finish the game on a tear for the 57-23 win.
"I think we underestimated them and we came in relaxed and we weren't prepared for them and they outhustled us pretty much the entire first half," senior guard Madison Hopkins, who led the Bulldogs in scoring, said. "I think when we went into halftime we realized we needed to step it up."
The Bulldogs did step it up in the second half, outscoring the Warriors 40-12 in the final two quarters behind 14 of Hopkins' game-high 17 points.
Hopkins got help from Sam Prosser who finished with 14 points, three rebounds, two steals, two blocks and Morgan Terry added 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Freshman Bethany Fitzgerald chipped in five rebounds off the bench and Sarah Beth Prosser filled the stat sheet with three steals, two blocks and two assists.
The Warriors were paced by Rayann Adamson with six points.
"Offensively we didn't move the ball, we didn't run our sets and we didn't try to get open," CHS coach Peyton Newton said. "Defensively we were slow. We only gave up 11 points in the first half but I still was not pleased with our mentality or aggressiveness."
The Lady Bulldogs started out ice cold, allowing the Warriors to hold a five point lead in the first quarter behind baskets from Alex Kelly and Taylor Daly before freshman Payton Salsman knocked down her first 3-pointer of the season with just over a minute remaining to cut the lead to 5-3.
Hopkins fed Sam Prosser for the basket to tie the game at 5-5 and two Terry layups pushed the Cornersville lead to 11-7 with 5:38 left in the first half.
The Warriors wouldn't die easily and Adamson drained a triple to knot the contest at 11.
Hopkins hit her first of four 3-pointers with 2:15 in the second quarter and Prosser knocked down another triple with under a minute left in the half for the 17-11 lead.
"Halftime was definitely a big pep talk," Prosser stated. "We go in expecting to do better than we did but definitely didn't make our shots in the first half. Second half we hit a bunch of shots and that definitely changed the game for us."
Cornersville scored the first four points of the second half to go up by 10, but Kaitlyn Young and Slinky Mulholland drained back-to-back threes to close the gap to one point at 21-20 before Hopkins put the team on her back.
The sharp shooting senior guard nailed both of her 3-point attempts in the quarter plus three free throws after getting fouled on another try and by the time Culleoka finally scored again the Lady Bulldogs held a 42-19 lead.
"We came in for a shoot around today so that helped me get prepared for the game," Hopkins said. "I just know I had to step up for my team and I had to score. I think that's what my mindset was."
Hopkins continued the hot streak with another triple and two more free throws in the fourth period and by the time Prosser knocked down her second trifecta of the game and claimed its biggest lead of the night at 51-23 the game had gotten out of hand for the Lady Warriors in the Lady Bulldogs' 34-point win.
Cornersville turns its attention on Richland Friday where a win would bring a three-way tie at the top of the district 11A standings.
"We definitely can't have a first half on Friday night like we did tonight," Prosser said. "That will definitely put us down against Richland. We'll have to come out and play the best defense that we can and the best offense we can. We're gonna have to get in the gym and shoot a lot more this week."
Cornersville 3 14 25 15 57
Culleoka 5 6 8 4 23
Cornersville (57): Madison Hopkins 17, Sam Prosser 14, Morgan Terry 10, Brooke Defoe 6, Taylor Powers 4, Payton Salsman 4, Daisy Braden 2
3-point goals (7): Hopkins 4, Sam Prosser 2, P. Salsman
Culleoka (23): Rayann Adamson 6, Taylor Daly 5, Alex Kelly 4, Slinky Mulholland 3, Kaitlyn Young 3, Breanna Dickinson 2
3-point goals (3): Adamson, Young, Mulholland
Halftime: Cornersville 17, Culleoka 11