Lady Cavaliers steal title with free throw
Posted By Sparta Live | February 25, 2010 12:00 am
Baseball calls it a walk-off homerun so for the lack of a better explanation, Cookeville stole the District 6AAA title with a walk-off free throw.
In a District 6AAA girls’ championship game that saw the lead change hands six times and the largest lead of the game by either team never exceeded six points, the outcome came down to a single free throw with no time left on the clock. The contest was tied eight times including when the final horn sounded.
Cookeville sophomore, Haley Edgington had two chances to seal the win for her team, but needed only one as she netted the first charity toss giving the Lady Cavaliers the 35-34 win and the District 6AAA championship. The loss prevented the Warriorettes from securing their first tournament title in 12 years.
All in attendance expected nothing other than a close game. The two split their two regular season contests, one winning by six, the other by eight. They came into the game with identical 18-9 records.
Fitting that the game went right down to the wire, but a bitter pill to swallow for the maroon and gray faithful.
The final two minutes of the game were drama filled. Lady Cavalier Tationa Johnson broke a 31-all tie with a three pointer at the 1:54 mark. Brittany Dodson answered back for WCHS 14 seconds later tying the score at 34. A Cookeville miss gave the Warriorettes the ball back with 1:13 remaining. WCHS was content to look for the last shot or a perfect opportunity. They instead were whistled for a five-second count with 45 seconds left giving the ball back to the Lady Cavs, who would also try to hold for the final shot.
Cookeville called timeout with 17.6 seconds left to set up their final play. Johnson tried to drive for the last shot, but the ball was batted out of bounds with 2.3 seconds showing on the clock. Cookeville still had possession. The ball was inbounded to Edgington who took a couple of dribbles and released the shot. Jessica Wilson contested the shot and did make contact. The whistle was late and the WCHS contingent maintained the horn sounded first. Edgington stepped to the line and calmly nailed the first shot to steal away the victory.
To say the game was defense oriented would be an understatement as it turned out to be the lowest scoring Class AAA championship contest across the state. Each team only reached double figure scoring in one of the quarters of the game. The Warriorettes scored 11 in the fourth and Cookeville had 11 in the third.
The Warriorettes finished the game shooting 38 percent from the field. Cookeville shot 44 percent. The Warriorettes were four of 12 on three point attempts. Cookeville hit five of their 13 tries outside the arc. Each team went two of three from the line with the final one of the contest being the game winner.
WCHS had the early advantage in the game leading 9-6 after one quarter of play. That lead came after Cookeville had taken a two-point lead. The Warriorettes closed out the quarter with a trey by Aubrey Sims and an offensive put back by Kristin Jones.
The two teams exchanged turnovers to start the second quarter. The first of Dodson’s two treys in the game gave the Warriorettes a six-point lead. That would be the largest advantage either team would enjoy. It lasted almost two minutes. Cookeville cut the lead in half with a trey and then pulled to within one on a basket by Hannah Goosy, a freshman, who led all scorers in the game with 13 points. Julie Brooks tied the score with one of two free throws. A Stephanie Lewis triple on a kick out from Whitney Randolph put WCHS back on top 15-12 with just under a minute left in the half. Brooks’ three with nine seconds remaining sent the teams into the intermission tied at 15.
The Warriorettes would never lead during the third quarter, but the score would be tied twice. Cookeville scored the second half’s first bucket almost two minutes into the frame. Tasha Delaney, who finished with 12 points and was the only Warriorette in double figures, tied the score with a drive at the 5:45 mark. Cookeville scored four straight to build a 21-17 lead. After another Delaney basket, the Lady Cavs went back up by four on a Johnson lay-up following a WCHS turnover. Baskets by Randolph and Delaney knotted the score at 23. However, Brooks closed out another quarter’s scoring with a three giving Cookeville a 26-23 lead with eight minutes and a free throw left in regulation.
The Lady Cavs took their largest lead of the game on a basket by Goolsby 30 seconds into the fourth period. A lay-up by Jones at the 5:57 mark was the first WCHS basket of the final quarter and made it a three-point game. Delaney put back in her own miss and was fouled with 4:13 left to play. She was not able to convert the three-point play opportunity, but WCHS would take the lead back a minute later. Delaney got the fast break started when she blocked a Johnson lay-up. Dodson laid the ball up on the other end giving WCHS a 29-28 led with 3:14 left to play. Goolsby gave Cookeville the lead back with a trey from the top of the key at the 2:37 mark. Jessica Wilson tied the score at 31 with 2:18 to play in the game setting up the game ending drama.
Although disappointed by the loss, the Warriorettes live to fight another day. They go into the Region 3AAA tournament as the number two seed from District 6 and will host Bradley Central Friday. Bradley (15-16) defeated Soddy Daisy 58-38 in the District 5AAA consolation game. Cookeville will host the Lady Trojans (11-13).
In the consolation game of the 6AAA tournament, Cumberland County, who went winless in the district regular season, defeated Coffee County 33-31. The Lady Jets will travel to Walker Valley while Coffee County visits Cleveland. The Lady Raiders defeated the Mustangs 51-46 in the 5AAA championship game. All of those games will be played Friday with the winners advancing to Monday’s semifinals, which are scheduled for Warren County. The only exception would be if all four District 5 teams advance, then the region would be moved to that district.
Coach Bryan Haley talked about the championship game and advancing to the region.
“Obviously, we wanted to win the championship and are disappointed we didn’t, but when it comes down to it, us and Cookeville still have the same layout. We are hosting a first round region game, which is what’s important. There’s survival games and positioning games. We didn’t face any survival games in the district, but we did have one that we had to win to get to play at home. That was the win over Cumberland County. I thought that was the big game for us. Now, we’re in survival games for the next two contests. We have to win those or our season is done. If we make it to the region championship game, we will have another chance to get a home game. That is the big one for homecourt advantage. We’re still upbeat and positive. We still have the same mission we had six weeks ago. We’re on track to get where we want to be. There is a lot to be optimistic about. I thought both teams played well. Cookeville just scored one more point than we did. Both teams played solid. It came down to the last minute and in a game like that; someone is going to make one more play. That’s all that happened. Cookeville made one more play. I really respect our kids for laying it all on the line. I told them we were winners because we did that.”
The Warriorette game against Bradley Central on Friday is schedule for a 7 p.m. tip off. Reserved seat or senior citizen passes will not be accepted. All seats are general admission and only TSSAA approved passes will be accepted.