Lionettes Blitz York
TONY STINNETT, Courier Co-Editor
The Lionettes, ranked No. 9 in the latest Associated Press Class AA Top 10 poll, broke open a close game with a remarkable two-minute flurry that provided a 61-48 win in a pivotal showdown of District 8-AA contenders Friday (Jan. 20).
Player of the Year candidate Abbey Sissom poured in a game-high 27 points, Lindsey Reed added 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and seven steals, and Jordan Hollis added 10 points as the Lionettes (19-4, 4-3) avenged an earlier loss to York (19-4, 4-3).
“We really wanted this win,” Sissom said. “It stung us a little bit the last time we lost to them because we feel we are the better team. We really wanted this win. We were ready to play and it showed because this was a true team win.”
The dagger came in the final three minutes of the game.
Clinging to a six-point advantage, 49-43, late in the fourth quarter, Cannon County put on a three-minute clinic featuring solid halfcourt defense, tenacious rebounding and superb finishes on the offensive end.
It took only 1 minutes, 35 seconds for the Lionettes to essentially end York’s hopes of a season sweep against Cannon County.
“That was a great run and a great way to finish the game,” Lionettes Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “We had worked on getting an outlet spot and looking up the floor when they trapped our rebounders because when you do that you are going to expose something.”
The Lionettes exposed the Lady Dragons much to the delight of a standing-room-only crowd at Robert A. Harris Gymnasium.
Sissom’s short jumper started the run, giving the Lionettes a 51-43 lead with 2:35 remaining. After a Lionettes stop, Reed found a streaking Hollis down the middle of the floor. Hollis finished extending the lead to 53-43 with 2:21 remaining.
Another stop resulted in another Hollis layup 18 seconds later. Then it was Sissom finishing on a run-out. Ashley Basham, who continues to be a force in the paint, came up with a blocked shot and rebound, then knocked down two free throws on the other end to push the lead to 59-43, and Sissom added another layup at the 1:10 mark to put the finishing touches on a sterling 12-0 run.
“We felt like we controlled the game throughout, but York is a great team and they had a lot of fight,” Reed said. “We finally put together that run at the right time because they couldn’t answer it at the end of the game. We finished this game the way quality teams are supposed to finish games and it’s a great feeling.”
Reed was her usual self. The exceptional do-it-all talent, who was named 2012 Valedictorian earlier in the day, was on the verge of an extraordinary quadruple double with her 11 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and seven steals.
Basham was a beast inside with six rebounds and three blocks to go with her five points. Sissom shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, knocking down 4-of-8 3-pointers. She also tallied four assists and three steals. Although Joanna Young didn’t score, her defensive presence was a key in the Lionettes’ win.
Still, the win wouldn’t have been possible without the key contributions off of the bench. Emily Pemberton, Rebekah Faulkner, Macy Clements and Madison Walkup were critical to the win. Their play, particularly in the first half when key players were in foul trouble, was paramount.
“Our bench did a great job of stepping in when we had to have them, especially in the first half,” Dodgen said. “Those girls did a great job for us and were a big reason we won this game. I’m proud of the effort.”
Also accentuating the team win was the fact that Cannon County players assisted 18 of the team’s 23 field goals. Crisp ball movement and a willingness to make the extra pass to find the open player were evident and generally led to high-percentage shots.
“When you have 18 assists it is a great team win,” Dodgen said. “This team does a really good job of moving the ball and finding the next person. They do a really good job of that. They are unselfish and they play hard together.”
The Lionettes shot 41 percent (23-of-56) from the field and grabbed 34 rebounds, while limiting York to 17-of-43. Ashley Wright and Kelli Jones led York with 13 and 11 points, respectively.