COPPERAS COVE — Eldridge McAdams knows his players did not capture the championship trophy, but it does not prevent him from believing they did.
Looking to win its home tournament for a second consecutive season, Copperas Cove put itself in prime position to defend its title by winning each of its first four games at the annual Bush’s Classic.
The only problem, however, was two other teams — former district rivals Belton and San Angelo Central — also went undefeated through the tournament’s first two days. So, as the host program, the Bulldawgs decided to remove themselves from the equation, allowing the Lady Tigers and Lady Bobcats to play for first place.
As a result, Copperas Cove competed for third place against Fort Worth Trimble Tech, and after emerging with a 79-60 victory, the Lady Bulldawgs’ head coach admitted the outcome is more significant than it appears.
“It most definitely feels like we won the championship,” McAdams said. “Our trophy says third place, but I feel like we won, and that’s a good feeling.
“We’re happy with what we accomplished.”
Copperas Cove (7-0) cruised to a victory in the 12-team tournament by outscoring its opponent 41-20 in the second half behind a quintet of double-digit scorers.
But the contest did not start off so lopsided.
The Lady Bulldawgs fell into an early 8-3 hole before taking an 18-17 edge into the second quarter on the heels of back-to-back layups from junior Leah Powell to end the first period.
The teams exchanged runs in the second quarter, including a stretch with Copperas Cove guard Jayda Carter connecting on three consecutive 3-pointers, but Trimble Tech closed the half with a 40-36 advantage.
The Lady Bulldawgs took immediate control following the break, though, scoring the first seven points of the period, and Copperas Cove never trailed again.
“We aren’t as big as Trimble Tech,” McAdams said, “but the girls kept fighting, and when we do what our game plan is and don’t try to get outside of it, that’s when we can really go.”
Madisen Honea, a guard, and Powell shared team-high scoring honors for the Lady Bulldawgs, recording 15 points apiece, while teammates Madison Griffon and post Kaysha McCloud finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Carter added 11.
While McAdams feels his team’s third-place showing could have easily been elevated, he is happy with how everything turned out.
“These other teams did us a favor by coming to our tournament,” McAdams said, “so why not let them go at it and shoot for the championship.
“At the end of the day, we got in five games, and we got five wins.”
SAN ANGELO CENTRAL BEATS BELTON
Playing for the tournament championship, the Lady Bobcats were held scoreless in the first quarter, but it did not matter.
Despite failing to produce a point until 6 minutes, 44 seconds remained in the second quarter, Central rebounded from the slow start to beat Belton 34-28.
The Lady Tigers (5-2) trailed by just two points, 30-28, with 34 seconds remaining after Natasha Blizzard connected on a pair of free throws, but late turnovers proved costly as the Lady Bobcats worked the clock en route to the victory.
Blizzard finished with more than half of Belton’s points, tallying a team-high 18 points, while teammate Janna Harvey followed with five points.
Copperas Cove Bush’s Classic
- San Angelo Central 34, Belton 28
- Copperas Cove 79, FW Trimble Tech 60