COPPERAS COVE — Mikayla Blount refused to quit.
With less than two minutes remaining in a tie game, Copperas Cove’s junior guard found herself in a battle under the basket as multiple players from each team converged in the paint for a rebound.
The Lady Bulldawgs needed a total of six offensive rebounds in the series, including three by Blount, before she finally got a shot to fall, giving Copperas Cove enough momentum to propel it to its fourth consecutive victory by beating Midway 64-58.
After the game, Blount, who led the Lady Bulldawgs in points, rebounds and assists, said she was determined to score.
“I was looking through the hands, thinking, ‘Keep putting it up, keep fighting for it, keep jumping for it, keep grabbing it and just keep going until it goes in,’” she said. “Luckily, it got tipped to me and I put it in.”
Blount finished with a double-double, scoring 16 points to go with 14 rebounds and three assists, but no play was more pivotal than her late-game putback.
“Sometimes, I think we just want to shoot it and watch Mikayla get that rebound,” Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams said of the play. “But that was good. They didn’t quit. They got in there and kept banging and banging and banging and banging.”
The shot broke a 56-56 tie before Copperas Cove senior Brittany Gamble scored the Lady Bulldawgs’ final six points of the game, including four free throws with less than 20 seconds remaining.
Despite coming down to the wire, Copperas Cove (15-10, 5-5 District 8-5A) was in control for most of the contest.
The Lady Bulldawgs scored the first nine points of the game, and the Pantherettes did not score until Marie Benson connected on a pair of free throws with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter.
Midway quickly closed the gap, though, tying the score at 14-14 before entering the second quarter trailing 20-16. The Pantherettes claimed their first lead of the evening at 28-27 midway through the period, but Copperas Cove ended the half on by scoring nine consecutive points to go into halftime ahead 39-30.
Copperas Cove suffered through a third-quarter shooting slump, missing 10 of its 11 attempts, but maintained a 47-40 advantage to start the third quarter.
“In the last three victories we’ve had, we’ve played good for four quarters,” McAdams said. “I knew coming in, it is hard riding that wave (of momentum from winning) and keep riding it. So, hopefully, I can say this was our bad game of the second half of district.”
Midway (9-17, 2-8) held the lead twice in the fourth quarter, once at 52-51 and again at 56-54, but the Lady Bulldawgs produced an answer each time.
After falling behind for the final time, Blount hit a pair of free throws to tie the score before eventually accounting for the go-ahead basket off the series of Copperas Cove point-blank misses.
From there, Gamble, who scored eight of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, secured the win with four clutch free throws.
“The pressure was on me, but I can take the pressure,” she said. “I know my team knows I can make those free throws, so I just took a deep breath, shot it, and they went in for me.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org