BELTON — Copperas Cove coach Tiffney Barnes-Graham knew her guard-heavy Lady Dawgs couldn’t match Belton’s size. What they could do was intimidate the young Lady Tigers.
Belton committed over 30 turnovers Friday night at Tiger Gym in a 43-32 loss in the District 12-6A opener for both schools.
“We have to apply pressure because Belton is huge compared to us,” Barnes-Graham said. “We are small, so we had to do it someway.”
The plan for the Lady Dawgs (8-2, 1-0) was to apply a full-court press part of the time, and have a player — if not two — in the face of Belton’s ball handler at all times. And the plan built on a theme that has hurt the Lady tigers (3-8, 0-1) all season so far.
“Take away some of those turnovers and it’s really a tight game,” Belton coach Brenda Gomez said. “They were aggressive on us, but (some of those times) we didn’t have to throw that ball. I think valuing possession of the ball has to be a little more important to some of them.
“But I really felt like we handled the press OK, better than the 47 turnovers we had maybe a month ago.”
It was still a fairly tight affair most of the opening half, with a 5-0 run late in the first quarter giving the Lady Dawgs a 14-9 lead after the opening quarter.
That lead increased to 17-9 early in the second quarter when Belton began to fight back thanks in large part to the rebounding of Jocelyn Brewer, making her season debut, and Campbell Burnett, who hauled in most of what Cove was missing.
“We have Campbell, (Brewer) and (Alexis) Wade, they all can rebound well,” Gomez said. “And (Nylah Modeste) was out sick. It’s hard to defend that many people on the floor when they are that much bigger.”
Belton went on an 8-point run that began with a jumper by Brewer, and ended with a runner by Karina Fisher to tie the game at 17, with 3:41 left in the half. Burnett and McKenna Maddux, who led the Lady Tigers with 11 points, added the other four points for the Lady Tigers during the run.
Belton’s eight-point run began with a jumper by Brewer and ended with a runner by Fisher to tie the game at 17 when Cove began its run
“We knew Belton would come out and be aggressive,” Barnes-Graham said. “We weren’t expecting (Brewer) to be back. She’s a difference maker.”
But the Lady Dawgs answered with an eight-point run of their own, as three Belton turnovers led directly to points including two fast break layups by Madisen Honea for the Lady Dawgs. The run ended when Esperanza Morena hit a 3-pointer right before the half to pull Belton back to 25-20, but Belton would get no closer.
Honea, who led the Lady Dawgs with 12 points, hit two 3-pointers in the second half, including one in the opening seconds of the half, as Cove pulled away.
Kayshea MacCloud also had 12 points for Copperas Cove. Brewer had eight for Belton.
“We let (Honea) free a couple of times and she hit those 3s that put us back down,” Gomez said. “It was a good game. And it was some encouragement for the girls knowing we can complete in this district.”
COPPERAS COVE 43, BELTON 32
Copperas Cove 14 11 12 6—43
Belton 9 11 8 4—32
Copperas Cove (8-3, 1-0 12-6A)—Honea 12, MacCloud 12, Powell 7, Garrett 5, Anderson 4, Wallace 3.
Belton (3-8, 0-1)—Maddux 11, Brewer 8, Moreno 3, Beamesderfer 2, Wade 2, Burnett 2, Fisher 2, Small 2.
DISTRICT 12-6A SCORES
- Copperas Cove 43, Belton 32
- Ellison 48, Waco 28
- No. 23 Harker Heights 68, Temple 36
- No. 10 Waco Midway 46, Killeen 36