December 28, 2013

Area prep roundup: Freshmen push Lady Cats into title matchup

The new faces for Dalton High School’s girls basketball team seem to be adjusting to bigger roles just fine.

Freshmen figured largely in the outcome for the Lady Catamounts as they beat host LaFayette 60-58 in Friday’s semifinals at the Medi-Thrift Pharmacy Holiday Classic.

The win put Dalton (6-3) — which is led by first-year coach Lacie Coquerille, a former Lady Cats standout who was an assistant last season — into today’s 7 p.m. title game against Calhoun.

“I was extremely proud of our two freshmen, Bowen Land and Gabby Wright,” Coquerille said. “They played hard defensively and both of them stopped (LaFayette’s) two leading scorers, and they hit their free throws down the stretch.”

Dalton’s boys and North Murray’s girls won consolation bracket matchups Friday at the tournament and secured spots in today’s fifth-place games.

In Dalton’s girls semifinal, the Lady Ramblers led at each of the quarter breaks —13-11, 28-23 and 45-38 — but Coquerille said her team simply decided to increase their effort with about five minutes to play.

With Dalton applying full-court pressure in the final minutes, Wright stole the ball and made a layup to put the Cats up by a point. LaFayette then missed a shot and Dalton’s Hannah Cox secured the rebound. When sophomore Taitlyn Chesser was fouled, she went 1-for-2 from the line to stretch Dalton’s lead to a basket with 24 seconds to play.

LaFayette missed its final shot and the Lady Cats rebounded to seal the victory.

Land had 23 points, while Wright finished with 11. Both ninth-graders’ tallies were personal bests for the season.

“(LaFayette) pressed us and the older ones got flustered,” Coquerille said, “but it was nice to see our younger ones step up and be leaders, as young as they are.”

Dalton boys 87, Coosa 85: Late defensive stops and a good effort at the free-throw line helped the Cats (5-4) shake off a first-round loss in LaFayette.

It also helped offset the Eagles’ big day from behind the arc as Coosa finished 13-for-31 on 3-pointers.

“The big thing was they were 14-for-25 from the free-throw line and we were 30-for-44,” Dalton coach Mike Duffie said. “We had 43 rebounds, too, so we rebounded well. But they just shot it so well from the 3-point line it kept them in the game.”

Duffie said the Cats made 5 of 7 attempts at the foul line in the final minute.

Emier Bowman’s 21-point, 13-rebound showing led the Cats, who also got double-digit scoring efforts from Braxton Thomas (17 points), Mark Sims (12) and Jordon McKinney (11). Dalton, which trailed 22-20 after the opening period, led 47-41 at halftime but trailed 64-63 entering the fourth quarter.

“We had to have a lot of folks score, and we did much better offensively today than yesterday,” Duffie said. “I don’t know that we played bad defensively — Coosa shot it well. It was just a tough game. They’re quick and athletic, a good ballclub, so it was a good win for us to come out in an early-morning game and win.”

Dalton takes on Ridgeland at 2:30 p.m. today.

North Murray girls 53, Ringgold 40: Up 20 points in the second half at one point after outscoring the Lady Tigers 20-6 in the third quarter, the Lady Mountaineers (5-7) held off one last charge to bounce back from an opening-round loss in LaFayette.

North Murray led 6-2 after the first quarter but the score was tied at 18 at halftime.

“The first half we did some good stuff, we just didn’t go and finish,” Lady Mountaineers coach Keith Robinette said. “We missed numerous  layups and we missed 8 of 12 free throws in the first half.”

The offense finally picked up, though, with Baylee Sutton leading the way with a 12-point effort. Kara Deal added 11 points, while Megan Pittman had seven points and turned in what Robinette believes is her best defensive effort this season.

“I’ve been real pleased with her the past couple of weeks,” he said.

Robinette was particularly happy that nine players scored for North Murray, which takes on Coosa at 1 p.m. today.

“We’ve got to get everybody involved,” he said.

Upperman (Baxter, Tenn.) boys 86, Northwest 59: Caleb Storey made eight 3-pointers in a 26-point effort to lead the Bruins (5-6), but there wasn’t nearly enough offense for Northwest as it opened play at the Midway (Tenn.) Christmas Classic with a loss.

Four players finished in double figures for Upperman, which led 23-8 after the first quarter, 42-19 at halftime and 64-44 entering the final period.

“They played really smart and crafty, and they played really good as a team,” Northwest coach Ryan Richards said of Upperman, which he said improved to 11-3. “... We didn’t come out and play with the same intensity they did early on, and we got in a hole and couldn’t ever get out of it.”

Levi Mosteller added nine points for the Bruins — all on 3-pointers — while Cyrus Addison had seven points and as many rebounds.

Northwest falls into the consolation bracket and will play at 2:30 p.m. today against the loser of Friday’s late game between tournament host Midway and Tennessee’s Loudon.

Eagle’s Landing Christian girls 63, Murray County 55: The Lady Indians (3-9) were tied at 43 going into the fourth quarter and held the lead in the final minutes but lost for the second straight day at the Pickens Holiday Classic.

Caitlyn Sims led Murray County with 28 points, while Katlyn Richardson added 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists. McKenzie Carroll chipped in eight points and six assists for the Lady Indians, who close out their time at the three-day event versus Wheeler at 1:30 p.m. today.

• Northwest’s junior varsity girls team won twice at home on Thursday — 46-38 against Christian Heritage and 57-22 against Southeast Whitfield — to remain undefeated eight games into the season.

Against Christian Heritage, Bria Clemmons, Lexi Storey and Kylee Ward each had 10 points to lead the Lady Bruins.

Ashlyn Clements and Mikayla Russell each had 11 points for Christian Heritage (4-4).

Against Southeast, Ward led Northwest with 11 points, while Storey chipped in seven.

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