Taylor King drives the ball up the middle in district tournament action against DeKalb County Friday in Cookeville. (Casey Hindman photo)
COOKEVILLE — The top-seeded Cannon County Lionettes opened their district tournament play against the DeKalb County Lady Tigers in semifinal action Friday. Playing without starting post, Lauren Ruehlen, who is lost for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury, the Lionettes were determined to prove that they deserved the No. 1 seeding by running out to a 9-1 lead in the first 3:00 of play on baskets by Emily Sissom and Chelsey Payne.
Dekalb cut the lead to three with 2:50 remaining, but baskets by Ashley Campbell and Taylor King pushed the lead to ten, 19-9, by the end of the quarter.
The Lions built a 13 point lead, 25-12, at the 6:00 mark. Dekalb put up 7 straight points cutting the lead to six with 3:00 left in the quarter, and found themselves trailing by only four at the 1:31 mark. The Lionettes closed out the quarter with a 7-0 run taking a 34-23 lead into the half.
Cannon came out strong in the third quarter with baskets by King, Melton, Payne, and Sissom to take a 44-26 lead at the 3:05 mark. Dekalb answered with a 5-0 run, but Cannon closed the quarter with a 6-0 run taking a 51-31 lead.
The Lionettes opened the fourth with two Sissom 3-point baskets and 2-point baskets by Sissom and Lindsey Reed, taking a commanding 61-31 lead as they coasted to a 68-43 opening round win.
The Lionettes (24-3) will play Upperman Monday night at 6 p.m. at Tennessee Tech for the district tournament title. The Lady Bees handed Cannon County two of its three regular season losses. Both teams will advance to the region tournament.
Emily Sissom 20 points; Taylor King 16; Lindsey Reed 11; Chelsey Payne 8; Ashley Campbell 4; Jordan Hollis 3; Erica Melton 2; Ashley Basham 2; Shelby Jordan 2.
The Lions’ semi-final was another match-up against a district team that they had lost to twice in the regular season. The last time Cannon played the Livingston Wildcats, the Lions were on the 21-point losing end of the game. They hoped to make a much better showing in their Friday night game against the Wildcats.
Things did not start well for the Lions falling behind, 8-0, after 4:00 of play. The Lions finally got on track with baskets by Andrew Woodin, Justin Davenport, and Brian Cripps, cutting the lead to 8-6 at the 1:45 mark. The Wildcats took a 4 point lead with 20-seconds left on the clock setting the stage for a Justin Davenport buzzer-beating, off balance, desperation 3-point shot cutting the lead to 12-11.
The Lions had a difficult time hitting from the floor in the second shooting less than 30% while the Wildcats were shooting over 60%. Cannon took a 1 point lead on an Ethan Womack 3-point basket, but fell behind 16-13 on two quick Livingston baskets. The Lions tied the score at 16-16 on Womack’s second 3-point basket , but Livingston answered with a 10-0 run over the next 2:30 minutes taking a 26-16 lead with 3:26 left in the quarter. The Lions managed to cut it to 5, but the Wildcats ended the quarter with 6 points taking a 32-21 half time lead.
Cannon made the necessary adjustments at the half and came out playing a much better defensive game forcing 6 turnovers and holding Livingston to 40% shooting. Davenport opened the quarter with a 3-point basket followed by a Nave 3-point basket and 2 foul shots, keeping the Lions within striking distance. Trailing by 9 at the 4:10 mark, the Lions finished the quarter with a 7-0 run to close the gap to two, 40-38.
The Lions opened the fourth with an Andrew Woodin 3-point basket giving the Lions a 41-40 lead and a Colin Jones basket pushed it to three, with 6:00 remaining in the game. Livingston regained the lead holding a 50-45 advantage at the 4:00 mark. A basket by Davenport and Brad Hutchins cut the lead to four, but that was as close as the Lions could get as they fell to the Wildcats, 60-53.
The Lions play in the district consolation game tonight at 7:30 against York. The Lions will also advance to the region tourney.
Justin Davenport 17 points; Jared Nave 12; Andrew Woodin 7; Ethan Womack 5; Brian Cripps 4; Colin Jones 4; Cody Ruehlen 2; Brad Hutchins 2.
GIRLS DISTRICT 8-AA HONORS
1st team: Emily Sissom
2nd team: Taylor King and Lauren Ruehlen
3rd team: Ashley Campbell
Honorable Mention: Erica Melton and Lindsey Reed
All Defensive: Taylor King
All Freshman: Abby Jakes
Coach of the Year- Michael Dodgen
BOYS DISTRICT 8-AA HONORS
All District Team
Justin Davenport 1st Team
Colin Jones 3rd Team
Jared Nave 3rd Team
Cody Ruehlen Honorable Mention
All Defensive Team
All Freshman Team