By Angel Verdejo
The Cove Herald
Amanda Lawson and Jessica Williams-Smith are the only returners from a Bryan team that went 35-3 last season and fell a game short of the state tournament.
Whatever success the Lady Vikings have this season rests on their shoulders, while their younger teammates play catch-up.
The duo combined for 41 points Tuesday night.
The problem was the rest of the team combined for 11.
Cove had six different players score in the first quarter alone and used that balance and their defensive pressure to win comfortably, 64-52.
"We have a lot of kids that simply don't have a lot of experience playing ball," Bryan head coach Beth Jesurun said. "It affects everything, from our communication on the court to our execution."
Lawson, who finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, was able to keep Bryan (8-14, 1-3 District 12-5A) within striking distance early, scoring Bryan's first 11 points.
Cove (18-4, 3-1) adjusted, though, not only putting different players on the senior, but also closing the space Lawson had when trying to get to the basket.
"You don't want to give up that easy shot," Cove head coach Preston Flaniken said. "Make them work for that shot. Those great players - they have to work for it."
Lawson made just two of the nine second-half shots she took, down from her 7-of-16 shooting in the first two quarters.
In the second quarter, Cove made a run to stretch its lead out. While Bryan's senior duo scored every Lady Viking point in the first half, four different Lady Dawgs scored on the team's opening five possessions.
Jasmin Lyons and Jessica Best bookended a Bryan turnover, with Best's layup putting Cove up 23-16 just seconds into the quarter.
The teams then traded turnovers before Tameka King hit a free throw and Traonna Shedrick followed two Lawson foul shots with another layup, this one putting the lead at 26-18 with 6:15 left in the half.
Cove wasn't finished, as the next two baskets came from a Jasmine Baskin layup and Alex Rodriguez jumper.
"We do have some depth and so it makes it hard to game plan because we've had so many different players that have led us in scoring," Flaniken said. "Anytime you have the variety of weapons, that's always a good thing."
In all, 10 different Lady Dawgs scored, with Best (17 points) and Baskin (15) leading the way. Cove made four 3-pointers, but scored 44 of their points inside the arc. A Best 3-pointer just before halftime put Cove up by double digits, a lead that stretched to 20 three minutes into the third quarter.
The Dawgs also forced Bryan into 22 turnovers.
"We had too many turnovers, especially what we consider to be panic turnovers where we don't take our time and make the pass we're supposed to make," Jesurun said.
Bryan 74, Copperas Cove 67 - At Bryan, junior guard J-Mychal Reese dropped 31 points to out-duel six Bulldawgs with at least nine points apiece.
With a 21-13 second quarter effort, the Vikings stretched its lead to double digits at halftime, 47-36, to pull away for good.
Cove (12-9, 0-2 District 12-5A) was led with 14 points from Robert King while Cory Scott added 12, Jonathan Bridges and Juwan Rice each had 11 to go along with 10 points from Ricardo Artis.