MARBLE FALLS — Eldridge McAdams could tell his team had little left to give.
After playing four games in two days, No. 25 Copperas Cove began the final day of the Hill Country Classic by facing No. 7 Pflugerville Hendrickson in a fast-paced semifinal contest.
The Lady Hawks advanced to the Gold bracket final with a 77-68 victory, and the loss lingered for the Lady Bulldawgs.
When Copperas Cove returned to the court for its third-place game against No. 24 San Antonio O’Connor, it was evident to the Lady Bulldawgs’ head coach they were struggling.
“In our last game,” McAdams said, “I think they were gassed, because they gave a lot of energy earlier.”
The Lady Bulldawgs never led en route to a 56-44 loss to the Lady Panthers, finishing the tournament with a 3-3 record.
But they had opportunities to beat O’Connor.
After missing its first 10 field-goal attempts, Copperas Cove trailed 14-5 following the first quarter, and the deficit grew to 29-16 by halftime.
Then, however, the Lady Bulldawgs discovered their rhythm.
Copperas Cove scored 12 of the third quarter’s first 15 points to pull within four points, 32-28, after
junior Leah Powell connected on a jumper, but O’Connor responded.
The Lady Panthers recorded seven unanswered points and controlled the duration of the game.
“When you’re exhausted and playing from behind,” McAdams said, “you’re exerting even more energy trying to play catch-up.
“When we cut it to four points, I thought we were all right, but they answered, and all of a sudden, we were down again.”
The scenario was familiar to the Lady Bulldawgs after spending much of their semifinal game chasing Hendrickson.
Copperas Cove jumped out to a 6-2 lead held an 11-7 advantage moments later, but the Lady Hawks embarked on a 27-8 outburst in a run spanning into the second quarter.
The Lady Bulldawgs trailed 42-31 at halftime and used an 18-7 surge to pull within four points at 53-49, but they would not get any closer.
Senior guard Madison Griffon led Copperas Cove offensively, scoring 21 points, while Powell added 14 points, and Madisen Honea and Kaysha McCloud finished with 12 points apiece.
The production was drastically different against O’Connor, though.
Honea posted a team-high 11 points in the loss, while McCloud added seven points and six rebounds, and junior Deja Chapman
scored seven points. Nobody else made more than two shots from the field.
“I’m never satisfied with losing,” McAdams said, “but I’m glad we got to play these games, and we got out of this tournament injury free.
“So, anytime you can play six games in three days, that’s a good thing.”
The Lady Bulldawgs (10-3) host Marble Falls on Tuesday in their final game before opening District 12-6A play against Belton on Nov. 27.
“There are still things we have to improve on to compete in this district,” McAdams said. “Basketball is a game of little things, and we’ve got things to work on.
“We’re heading up the mountain, but we’re not to the top yet.”