Lady Bulldogs in 11A logjam
A region tournament spot was on the line Friday when Grace Christian-Franklin (6-18, 4-10) paid a visit to Cornersville for Senior Night and the final regular season District 11A contest.
With a loss, the Lady Bulldogs could find itself as low as sixth place, but with a win Cornersville (12-9, 9-5) might end up as high as second place.
One thing was for sure--the Lady Bulldogs could not suffer a letdown versus the Lady Lions in order to make a serious push for its 12th region tournament appearance in the past 13 seasons.
Judging by the first half alone in which the Lions scored just four points, the Lady Dawgs fully realized the importance of the contest and cruised to a 48-32 win.
"As proud as I was of them in the first half of following the game plan and playing so well defensively, in the second half we ran the exact same defense the whole time and gave up 28 points," CHS coach Peyton Newton said. "And the intensity, our effort, our willpower to just shut them down wasn't the same."
"We have to have that mentality the whole game," Newton continued. "The second half it wasn't there. So as proud of them as I was of their effort in the first half, the second half worries us a little bit because we can't afford to do that every night."
Cornersville (12-9, 9-5) has to wait until Wednesday, when the coaches at the District 11A meeting will have to pull names out of a hat to break the four-way tie with Columbia Academy (11-12, 9-5, Mount Pleasant (13-9, 9-5), and Santa Fe (12-9, 9-5) for second place.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Morgan Terry with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks and Sam Prosser with seven points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.
Senior shooting guard Madison Hopkins finally broke out of a shooting slump with a 13 point performance on three 3-pointers to go along with five rebounds.
"(Madison) has been struggling with her shot a little bit lately," Newton said. "She and Sam (Prosser) both along with Carly. We have several of them kind of beating themselves up about that. We're struggling scoring so it was nice to see a few fall through. You hope that gives them some confidence and momentum going forward."
The Lady Lions were led by Anna Fish with eight points and six apiece from Audrey Sanders and Rachel Calvert.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out quick on the Lady Lions with Terry doing the majority of the damage with a 3-pointer, a jumper, and a steal and a layup at the buzzer to give the home team an 11-2 lead.
The Lions received a glimmer of hope in the form of a Calvert layup to start the second quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs answered with a triple from Hopkins to push the lead to 14-4.
The visitor's woes continued through the rest of the half as the Lions wouldn't score another point in the second quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs missed out on a prime opportunity to blow the game wide open by scoring just four more points on two Hopkins free throws and a Sam Prosser bucket for an 18-4 halftime edge.
"We're not scoring the basketball," Newton reiterated. "So again, as well as we played defensively, we've got to put the ball in the basketball. We only had 18 points at halftime."
The Lady Lions came out of halftime inspired, doubling its first half output in just the first two minutes of the third quarter to pull within four points at 16-12 before Sam Prosser drained a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 19-12.
The Lady Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run starting with the Prosser triple to push the lead back to double figures at 23-12, but Anna Kate Bechman knocked down a jumper off her own rebound after a Charlee Baker midrange shot to cut the lead to single digits at 25-16.
Bethany Fitzgerald put back an offensive rebound to start another Cornersville run fueled by another Hopkins trifecta and a Terry foul line jumper off an inbound pass to close the third quarter as the lead ballooned to 34-19 heading into the final frame.
"I think we did a really good job on defense in the beginning, but we got kind of slow in the second half," Terry said about the Lions 15-point third period. "The first half we were hustling and had intensity and held them to just two baskets. We were up in them and that was our game plan."
The Lady Bulldogs gained another 3-pointer from Hopkins in the fourth quarter and by the time Sam Prosser completed a three-point play with 2:01 left in the game, the Cornersville lead had grown to 20 points at 46-26.
The Lady Lions picked up a few buckets in the last few minutes of the game to make the score appear closer than the game actually was.
The Lady Bulldogs now turn its focus onto Eagleville (12-12) as the Lady Eagles take a trip down to southern Marshall County in the regular season finale for both squads.
"Eagleville is just more of a game to stay in shape and realize what we need to work on, but we're more focused on getting this tournament and playing our hearts out," Terry said. "We're taking it one game at a time and we're just trusting in the process."
Grace Christian 2 2 15 13-32
Cornersville 11 7 16 14-48
Grace Christian (32): Anna Fish 8, Aubrey Sanders 6, Rachel Calvert 6, Charlee Baker 4, Anna Kate Bechman 2, Bella Sanizola 2, Anna Blaine Fish 2, Avery Thorne 2
3-point goals: none
Cornersville (48): Morgan Terry 16, Madison Hopkins 13, Samantha Prosser 7, Taylor Powers 5, Sarah Beth Prosser 4, Bethany Fitzgerald 2, Brooke Defoe 1
3-point goals (5): Hopkins 3, Samantha Prosser, Morgan Terry
Halftime score: Cornersville 18, Grace Christian 4