By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
CARTHAGE - Forget being in a title chase coming down the stretch.
Much more was on the line when No. 2 Cannon County faced Smith County in a pivotal District 8-AA game here Tuesday (Jan. 27).
Pride was at stake and the Lionettes (25-2, 10-1) avenged their only district loss and lone setback against a Tennessee team with a riveting 66-60 win.
Senior sensation Abbey Sissom led the charge with 24 points, six assists and three steals.
Senior teammates Rebekah Faulkner and Macy Clements were absolute beasts on the boards. Faulkner posted a double with 17 points on 9-of-13 shooting, collected 13 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Clements was also dynamic. She totaled nine points but she owned the offensive and defensive boards. The blue collar worker pulled in 17 rebounds and provided numerous second-shot opportunities for her teammates.
“(Clements and Faulkner) were really strong in there,” Lionettes Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “It seemed like they got every rebound there for a stretch. They work hard and their hard work inside pays off for the team. This was a big win for us against a good team on the road.”
Erin McReynolds added eight points on 4-of-4 shooting for the Lionettes. Madison Walkup added five points and Kristen Hale contributed three.
Smith County, which was led by Callie Hackett’s 28 points, came into the game needing a win to remain in the title hunt.
Cannon County made sure the Lady Owls (17-8, 7-4) wouldn’t be part of the championship picture in the season’s final week.
Although Cannon County led throughout the biggest part of the game, it was a contest that was in question throughout.
The decisive turning point in a game that featured several came early in the fourth quarter with Cannon County clinging to a 49-45 lead after Hackett connected on a 10-footer that erased what was once a double-figure lead.
Clements followed a Lionettes miss with an offensive rebound and powered the shot back in to start a 9-0 run.
Faulkner scored five during the run.
After a Smith County miss the Lionettes misfired on the offensive end; however, Faulkner grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to stretch the advantage to 53-45.
Faulkner blocked a shot on the defensive end and Sissom knocked down a 12-foot jumper to push the lead to 55-45. Faulkner added another basket and free throw and by the time the dust had settled Cannon County owned a 58-45 lead with under three minutes remaining.
“That was a decisive stretch in the game,” Dodgen said. “We kind of turned it right there and it was a little bit of everything. It was sound defense, very good rebounding and our girls showed a lot of poise when Smith County made their run.”