By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
LAFAYETTE - Cannon County’s state-ranked basketball teams had a shocking split in a District 8-AA doubleheader against Macon County here Friday.
The No. 3 Lionettes stormed to a 79-47 win against Macon County; however, the No. 8 Lions were stunned 55-48.
The Lions (20-4, 7-1) maintained their lead in the District 8-AA standings but the two-game lead it had built by virtue of crucial wins against Upperman and Livingston Academy dwindled to one with six league games remaining.
The Lionettes (22-2, 7-1) maintained a one-half game lead over Central Magnet and a 1-1/2 game lead over Smith County. Cannon County faces each team one more time during the regular season.
“This is when the season is fun,” Lionettes Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “You are just trying to keep getting better and position yourself for the tournament. We have put ourselves in position to compete for the regular-season title coming down the stretch. That’s a credit to our players.”
Abbey Sissom had another sterling performance with a game-high 29 points to pace the Lionettes. Rebekah Faulkner also turned in another solid performance with 16 points. She also helped control the boards.
Madison Walkup added eight points, Kendra Maynard seven, Erin McReynolds and Macy Clements scored five each.
Haley Mooneyham, Autumn King and Kaylee Hayes also got into the scoring column with two each.
The Lions dug themselves too big of a first-half hole.
Cannon County fell behind 19-8 after the first quarter and trailed 30-17 at the half.
The Lions mounted a furious comeback and closed to within three, 41-38, following Tommy Mitchell’s 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Cannon County could not maintain the momentum and never got closer than three down the stretch. It had numerous chances, trailing by six, to cut into the lead down the stretch but couldn’t convert.
Mitchell led the Lions with 15 points and Josh Ruehlen added 10. They were the only Lions with double figures. Jacob Nave had eight. Tanner Larson was held to six points, four coming in the second half, and leading scorer Cory Henley was limited to seven points. Henley had one point in the first half and only scored two in the pivotal fourth quarter.
“It’s a tough road loss but we have to regroup and learn from it,” Lions Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. “We did well enough defensively but we just couldn’t convert offensively. We could never seem to get into a rhythm.”