Columbia Academy hands Lady Bulldogs third straight loss
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs finished off a brutal three-game week with a visit from Columbia Academy on Homecoming night with the a chance to regain a foothold on a top position in the District 11A standings.
Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, a third straight fourth quarter meltdown left a team that started the week tied for first place in the district standings, struggling to maintain a top-four spot with the loss to Columbia Academy, 55-45.
Much like the past two district contests the Lady Dawgs led the first quarter and went into halftime tied, but faded towards the end of the third quarter and played catch-up the entire fourth period.
"I think playing three tough teams and three good teams played a factor late," CHS coach Peyton Newton said. "Any time you have battles like we did Tuesday and Thursday and then have to turn around, during Homecoming week I'll remind you, on Friday and play another good team, there is a risk of being worn out."
"But that's no excuse. We turned the basketball over too much again and missed some big shots and box outs."
Cornersville (8-8, 6-4) once again struggled from long range by making just four 3-pointers on over 20 attempts, but shored up its free throw shooting by making 13-of-19 attempts.
The Bulldogs were once again led by Morgan Terry with 21 points, 10 rebounds and a block, while Samantha Prosser added seven points, four steals, and three rebounds. Carly Salsman chipped in seven points and three rebounds and Sarah Beth Prosser had four points and four rebounds.
Columbia Academy (8-9, 6-4) was led by Grace Gerloch with 21 points and Jordyn Lentz was also in double figures with 11.
The word is out in district 11A that in order to beat Cornersville a full court press is essential. Columbia Academy heeded that advice by pressuring the Bulldogs almost the entire contest and forced Cornersville into mistake after mistake resulting in its third straight game scoring 45 points or under after scoring at least 53 points during an 8-out-of-10 game winning streak before the week started.
"We definitely know we have some work to do against the press," Newton stated. "That being said, the same press we are seeing in the first two quarters and breaking it pretty easily is the same press we are seeing in the second half."
"It's not so much the press giving us fits, it's our lack of focus and execution. We will fix it and have to be confident against it starting next week when we see one."
The first quarter started in typical Cornersville fashion as the home team went up 17-11 on a Terry jumper, but CA scored the last four points of the quarter to close the deficit to 17-15 heading into the second frame.
Cornersville stretched the lead back to 21-17 behind a Taylor Powers three and a Terry free throw, but five straight Bulldog turnovers led to a 7-0 CA run to take a 24-21 lead after a Gerloch steal and layup before Terry knocked down 3-of-4 free throws to tie the game at 24 heading into the break.
CA turned the pressure up a notch in the third period, taking a nine-point lead on a Kensie Hobbs layup and pushing the lead to 11 on a Gerloch runner with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Sarah Beth Prosser breathed life into the stagnant Cornersville offense with an offensive rebound and layup on the next possession and following two Hopkins free throws, Terry cut the 11-point lead down to five on an offensive rebound and layup with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Columbia Academy notched the lead back up to 11 points on a Hobbs steal and layup, but Salsman knocked down a 3-pointer and a midrange jumper to cut the lead back down to 47-41.
CA outscored the home team 8-4 to end the contest as Cornersville lost three games in a row for the first time since the first three games of the season.
"I hate to use the term again, but fatigue played a factor again," Newton said. "We were in the game again until late and just seemed to force bad passes and bad shots at times we didn't have to."
"To play as well as we have the past three games in the first half and then collapse in the second half just shows us we have to toughen up even when we get tired and find a way to pull these close ones out," Newton added. "And yes, it's fixable. We've led two of the past three losses at half time and were within three going to the third quarter in them. We just have to find that fire late in these games and we'll get back to our winning ways."
The road to the tournament does not get any easier for the Lady Dawgs as Cornersville hosts second place Mount Pleasant Tuesday night, but the contest offers a chance to get the team trending back in an upward trajectory.
"We need to play team ball, have a strong defense, be patient on offense, attack the basket, get to the free throw line and knock down our shots," Salsman said.
Columbia Academy 15 9 13 16-55
Cornersville 17 7 8 13-45
Columbia Academy (55): Grace Gerloch 21, Jordyn Lentz 11, Kensie Hobbs 9, Page Kleinke 6, Brittany Adair 5, Savannah Alsup 3
3-point goals (5): Lentz 2, Alsup, Gerloch, Hobbs
Cornersville (45): Morgan Terry 21, Carly Salsman 7, Sam Prosser 7, Sarah Beth Prosser 4, Taylor Powers 3, Madison Hopkins 2, Brooke Defoe 1
Halftime score: Cornersville 24, Columbia Academy 24