Copperas Cove needs to rebound in more ways than one.
The Lady Bulldawgs entered Tuesday’s District 12-6A opener on a roll, winning 11 of their first 14 games, briefly working their way into the state rankings and going undefeated in their home tournament.
Belton, however, proved Copperas Cove still has areas of improvement.
The Lady Tigers, who have eight players on their roster standing at least 5 feet, 9 inches or taller, utilized their size advantage en route to a 38-36 road victory.
Now, the Lady Bulldawgs must rebound from the loss, and Copperas Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams believes it begins with dedication to the game’s fundamentals.
“We’re little,” he said, “so we have to box out. We can’t just sit there and look at the other team, because they don’t even have to jump to get a rebound over us, but if we box out, then we have a chance.
“The majority of Belton’s rebounds were because we wouldn’t box out, and we wouldn’t do to them what they were doing to us.”
The Lady Tigers dominated the boards, collecting 35 rebounds compared to just 23 for Copperas Cove with eight coming in the fourth quarter as it attempted to rally from a 13-point halftime deficit.
Leah Powell led the Lady Bulldawgs with nine rebounds, but it was not nearly enough to contend in the category. Led by 6-foot post Natasha Blizzard’s team-high eight rebounds, five players tallied at least four rebounds in the win.
The rebounding deficiency proved costly as Copperas Cove uncharacteristically struggled from the floor,
missing 58 of its 69 field-goal attempts, including 26 3-pointers.
“They were limiting us on the offensive end by just boxing us out,” McAdams said. “We would shoot, and they would get the rebound.
“(Belton head coach Brenda Gomez) coaches the same way I coach and on the same things, but it comes down to the kids doing it, because it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Lady Bulldawgs will spend the upcoming days looking to hone their skills before returning to the floor Tuesday, when they host Killeen.
Then, Copperas Cove (11-4, 0-1) travels to play last season’s District 8-6A champion Ellison on Friday.
Regardless of who they face, the Lady Bulldawgs will typically be at a size disadvantage.
Oriented around guards Madisen Honea, Madison Griffon and Jayda Carter, who spend much of their time around the perimeter, Copperas Cove possesses only one significant post presence in junior Kaysha McCloud.
Against Belton, though, McCloud was hindered by early foul trouble, limiting her production to eight points and four rebounds in the loss.
While McAdams understands shots do not always fall and players will undoubtedly be sidelined at various times throughout the season, he also feels the Lady Bulldawgs need to ensure they are prepared for such situations to be successful in the future.
“We’re got to rebound from this,” McAdams said. “We’re going to get other teams’ best shots, so we’ve got to step up and play hard.
“We can’t have letdown quarters or games, because we will end up on the losing end of a lot of them.”