Mitchell leads Lady Bulldog comeback over Eagleville
Cornersville got a little taste of its future home in District 8-A last year with a home and away series with Eagleville that was played on the first and last game of the season.
Eagleville dominated the Lady Dawgs by 21 points in the opener and 12 points in the finale, but this season Cornersville has started out blazing hot with a 12-2 record heading into district play before knocking off Cascade last week to set up the much anticipated rematch with the Lady Eagles.
The Rutherford County school entered the contest with an 11-6 record after starting off the season 7-0 and looked extremely impressive by taking a 7-1 lead after one frame, but ultimately let a close one slip away after a furious rally by the Lady Bulldogs (14-2, 2-0) that culminated in a 33-30 win.
"We buckled down at the end and decided that we really wanted to play," CHS coach Peyton Newton said. "I'm very proud of the way they decided they wanted to play defense.”
“We had trouble scoring the entire game, but when it came down to the end, we said we've got to get to the basket and finish shots and that's what they did so I'm proud of the way they finished."
The Eagles (11-6, 0-2) led for the entirety of the game until Emma Mitchell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the put-back with just 21 seconds remaining.
"Towards the end we kind of got into a lull and things weren't working as well as it had been for the first three quarters," Eagleville sophomore Lizzy Thompson, who led the Eagles with five third quarter points, said. "We played a lot better toward the beginning than we did the end. There were some mistakes that we made that should have been corrected. We could have boxed out and grabbed rebounds better and been stronger with the ball."
Mitchell's winning bucket came just 38 secs after the senior wing nailed a runner in the lane to draw the Lady Bulldogs within one point.
"I think that we just had confidence all throughout the game and we had the mindset that we were going to win it and it was just time to take over," Mitchell, who finished with seven points and four rebounds, said. "I'm not really surprised (at the 14-2 start) because we've been playing together so long and at some point everything has to click and it really has been this season."
The Lady Bulldogs were led once again by senior standout Morgan Terry with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Taylor Powers added four points and four rebounds and Gabby King added four points, five rebounds and an assist.
As usual, Sarah Beth Prosser filled up the stat sheet with three points, five rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
Eagleville was led by Karah Snell with 10 points, Makayla Moates with eight points, and Thompson with five points and eight rebounds.
Cornersville held Eagleville to its third lowest point total of the season and its sixth opponent overall to 31 points or under.
The Lady Bulldogs looked out of sorts during the initial period, scoring just a single Terry free throw while Moates knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:39 left in the first for a 7-1 Eagleville lead.
Moates got another open look from deep 30 seconds into the second frame and the Lady Eagles looked ready to run away with the game before it was started.
Mitchell finally made the Bulldogs first field goal with 7:10 in the second quarter, but Snell drained a long-range bomb to push the lead back to 13-3 at the 6:13 mark.
The rest of the quarter belonged to the home team.
The Bulldog rally started with a Terry layup on a nice one-handed shovel pass from Gabby King, before King grabbed a one-handed offensive rebound and went up strong for the put-back to trim the lead to 15-7.
Terry broke loose for another easy layup and Powers sank two crucial free-throws just over the one minute mark left in the half to trim the one-time double digit lead to four points at intermission.
"Other than saying we're going man the rest of the game, I just told them to play tougher, play smarter, we're only down four," Newton explained. "Don't panic. And go one possession at a time, get stops and score on the other end."
The post players stole the show for each team in the third quarter as Thompson and Terry went at each other with the Eagleville sophomore contributed five of the Eagles eight points and Terry scoring six of the Lady Bulldogs eight to keep the Cornersville deficit at four heading into the final period.
The Bulldogs finally made their move as Prosser tallied an old-fashion three-point play to trim the lead down to 24-22 with just over six minutes remaining.
"We got in the huddle and I just said--listen, this is our game and we're winning it," Terry recalled. "I don't care what anyone thinks, this is our game. We finally started finishing our layups and once we got on a little run it clicked from there,"
King scored on a breakaway layup with 2:35 left on the clock to bring the home team to within 28-26 before Mitchell's last minute heroics sealed the deal for Cornersville.
The Eagles had one last chance to go for the win, gaining possession with 5.9 seconds remaining and down just 31-30, but a bad inbound pass sailed over its intended targets head before Terry came up with the loose ball and ultimately sank two free-throws to ice the game with 0.2 seconds left.
The Lady Dawgs are atop the District 8-A standings with a huge game with Moore County looming on the horizon Friday night.
"For (Eagleville) to be picked to finish higher than us in the district, this win made us feel really good because I don't think anyone really believed we could compete at the top of this district," Terry said. "Now we're sitting at 2-0 and going to play a tough Moore County team that if we play like we did tonight, we'll have a good chance to beat them."
The Lady Eagles will have to wait a couple weeks before getting another shot at the Bulldogs and a chance to remain in the hunt for one of the top district seeds come tournament time.
"We definitely need to box out and rebound better and be stronger with the ball down low when we see them again," Thompson said. "We have very talented post players so we've definitely have got to focus on post play and make sure that we don't foul them because they make their free throws. We've got to step up and make ours too."
The two teams meet again on January 26.
Eagleville 7 8 8 7-30
Cornersville 1 10 8 14-33
Eagleville (30): Karah Snell 10, Makayla Moates 8, Lizzy Thompson 5, Mary Elise Lynch 4, Coley Whitley 3.
3-Point Goals (4): Moates 2, Snell, Whitley.
Cornersville (33): Morgan Terry 15, Emma Mitchell 7, Taylor Powers 4, Gabby King 4, Sarah Beth Prosser.
3-Point Goals (0).
Halftime: Eagleville 15, Cornersville 11.