Lady Bulldogs suffer season-ending loss at Loretto
The Cornersville Lady Bulldogs suffered through inconsistency throughout the season, including opening up the campaign with a three-game losing streak which was followed by a four-game winning streak before two three-game mid-season winning streaks sandwiched around another three-game losing streak.
A convincing 14-point victory over longtime rival Columbia Academy started the postseason off on a high note before two straight district tournament losses put the Lady Bulldogs (13-13) in the unfortunate position of traveling to Lawrence County to take on the number one seed from District12A--the Loretto Mustangs (21-7).
And despite having problems scoring early in the contest, Cornersville found itself down just nine points heading into the final period before the Mustangs put the game away at the charity stripe for a 49-32 win.
"Our game plan was to attack offensively and look to score on a layup or kick it out for the open three," Bulldog coach Peyton Newton explained. "We knew Loretto was long and quick so our usual offensive sets would be very hard to run successfully. We got a lot of open shots and really got the shots we thought we could against them but we just missed a few too many layups and a few too many threes."
The Lady Bulldogs were led by junior forward Morgan Terry with 14 of the teams 32 points to go along with eight rebounds and senior point guard Madison Hopkins chipped in six points, five rebounds, and three assists.
And despite the loss, Cornersville held the Mustangs to the lowest point total in game this season in which Loretto won.
"I think we were matched up well," Terry stated. "I mean they were long and lanky, but they didn't really force many turnovers against us."
The Mustangs were led by Julia Huntley with 14 points and Sloane Rhodes with 12.
The Lady Bulldogs had numerous chances to trim the lead to within two possessions during the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter, but multiple missed layups and wide open threes put the visitors behind the eight ball for nearly the entire second half.
" Again, we liked where we were going into to fourth quarter but missed too many open looks and Loretto stepped to the free throw line and did what good teams do," Newton said. "They hit them. I don't think anything went wrong, the girls played hard and kept fighting. Loretto just did a good job of putting the game away at the line."
Even though the Lady Bulldogs scored just 13 points in the first half, the Cornersville defense held Loretto to just 22 points to remain well within striking distance to start the third period.
"Of course we wanted to be ahead at halftime, but nine points behind wasn't a big deal," Terry said. "We knew we had to come out strong and we did, but we couldn't get shots to fall like we wanted."
The two teams went back and forth in the third quarter with Loretto going up 11 to start the period, but Carly Salsman scored to trim the lead back to nine.
After another Mustang basket, Hopkins drove down the lane and scored on a layup to cut the lead down to nine once again.
The Mustangs threatened to blow the game open on two Huntley shots and an Olivia Chadwell free throw to push the lead to 13 points, but Terry knocked down a triple from the corner to reduce the lead to 10.
Cornersville had the chance to finally break through the nine-point difference, but Taylor Powers only hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to nine once again at the end of the third.
The Mustangs went up 11 points to start the fourth quarter, but Terry once again brought the lead back down to nine before Loretto finally pulled away to advance to the region semifinals against Perry County on Monday night.
After Friday night, Richland was the only 11A team left standing after a close 54-43 win over Collinwood while Mt. Pleasant suffered a 16-point loss to Perry County and Santa Fe dropped a 38-point decision against Summertown.
Loretto’s season ended against Perry County on Monday night while one-seeded Richland was knocked out by Summertown to set up an all 12A championship game on Wednesday.
“I think we did some good things this season," Newton said. "We lost Gabby (King) early on and that definitely hurt us in terms of depth and having another scorer on the floor. Our girls played hard all season and stayed together as a group even when things got tough."
"They are a special group of young ladies who will be successful in whatever they do after ball," Newton added. "I am a very proud coach of a very special team. We didn't win these tournament games, but these young ladies made memories together that will last forever and played their hearts out all season."
"I want to say a special thanks to our seniors who have done everything we've asked of them for 4 years. I love them all to death and look forward to following them and supporting them in their bright futures ahead."
Cornersville 7 6 9 10-32
Loretto 13 9 9 18-49
Cornersville (32): Morgan Terry 14, Madison Hopkins 6, Sam Prosser 5, Taylor Powers 4, Carly Salsman 2, Brooke Defoe 1
3-point goals (2): Terry, Powers
Loretto (49): Julia Huntley 14, Sloane Rhodes 12, Mimi McBee 7, Olivia Chadwell 6, Bailey Nix 5, Abby Prince 4, Destiny Gobble 1
3-point goals (1): Rhodes
Halftime score: Loretto 22 Cornersville 13