COPPERAS COVE — Belton could not score, so the Lady Tigers found other ways to win.
After leading the entire game and taking an eight-point advantage into the fourth quarter, Belton lost its offensive rhythm, allowing Copperas Cove to create a single-possession contest.
And the Lady Tigers struggled to widen the gap, missing all six of their field-goal attempt in the period.
But it did not matter.
Belton made key plays down the stretch to hold on and win its District 12-6A opener 38-36 on Tuesday, and following the victory, Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Gomez admitted the outcome required an alternative approach.
“The kids showed they know a little bit about court awareness, time management and all those other things that played a huge part in this win,” she said. “All the little things added up for us, because we gave them opportunity after opportunity.
“We’re fortunate they weren’t hitting shots.”
The Lady Bulldawgs scored six consecutive points to open the fourth quarter to create a two-point deficit at 34-32 following Jayda Carter’s baseline jumper with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining.
The score did not change for almost five minutes until Belton senior Presleigh York made a free throw with 1:03 remaining, and she made another free throw 18 seconds later to give the Lady Tigers a 36-32 lead.
From there, the teams exchanged free throws, but the Lady Bulldawgs could not find a way to take control.
“I just feel like Belton wanted this game more than we did,” Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams said. “They had energy, they were getting the loose balls and hitting the boards.
“When you play a disciplined team and don’t do what you are supposed to do, you are going to get beat.”
Early on, it appeared Belton (10-2, 1-0) was poised to earn a one-sided win.
The Lady Bulldawgs missed 15 of their 17 field-goal attempts in the first quarter as the Lady Tigers constructed a 17-8 advantage.
Then, things got worse for Copperas Cove (11-4, 0-1) as it delivered a 1-of-15 shooting performance in the second quarter, and Belton led 26-13 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Lady Bulldawgs finally established some offensive consistency, but the Lady Tigers found ways to prevent their opponents from completing the rally.
“We just need to play to our strengths,” Gomez said. “Our tempo is a lot slower than Copperas Cove, so if we let ourselves play into their game plan, then we are putting ourselves in a situation where we could lose.”
York finished with a game-high 13 points, while teammate Natasha Blizzard added eight points and nine rebounds, pacing five Lady Tigers who recorded at least four rebounds.
The Lady Bulldawgs, who were 11 of 69 from the field and 2 of 28 from behind the 3-point arc, received a team-high eight points from McCloud, while Leah Powell produced seven points and nine rebounds.
Additionally, guards Madisen Honea and Madison Griffon had six points apiece for Copperas Cove.
While Gomez feels lucky to escape with a win, she understands the outcome could have been different.
“I could see the girls were fatigued,” Gomez said. “So, we need to work on some things, and we are going to use our tournament this weekend as a high-powered practice to get ready for the rest of district.
“We have to be better prepared.”
BELTON 38, COPPERAS COVE 36
York 13, Blizzard 8, Brewer 6, Williams 4, Wesley 3, Harvey 2, Rice 2.
Copperas Cove (36)
McCloud 8, Powell 7, Honea 6, Griffon 6, Carter 5, Knotts 2, Johnson 2.
Belton 17 9 8 4—38
Copperas Cove 8 5 13 10—36
3-Point Goals—Belton 2 (York Wesley), Copperas Cove 2 (Honea, Carter). Free Throws—Belton 8-13, Copperas Cove 12-17. Fouled Out—Williams. Total Fouls—Belton 17, Copperas Cove 17. Technicals—McCloud.
Records—Belton 10-2, 1-0 12-6A, Copperas Cove 11-4, 0-1.
TUESDAY’S GIRLS BASKETBALL
- Georgetown East View 51, Shoemaker 47
- Austin Hill Country Christian 41, Florence 20
- No. 15 Lampasas 79, Cedar Creek 26
- Salado 58, Holland 32
- Belton 38, Copperas Cove 36
- Ellison 63, Waco 28
- Harker Heights 52, Temple 46
- Waco Midway 61, Killeen 57