By TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
EDITOR’S NOTE: As of presstime the Lionettes were playing Upperman in the Region 4-AA semifinals Monday night. A win puts Cannon County in the Region 4-AA finals Wednesday at Cookeville High School and a subsequent berth in Saturday’s Sub-State round. Results will be posted on CannonCourier.com.
Facing an elimination game for the first time this season was a different experience for Cannon County so the Lionettes left nothing to chance.
The Lionettes (26-5) stormed out to an early lead and never let up against Chattanooga Christian on the way to a 64-47 win in the first round of the Region 4-AA Tournament at Robert A. Harris Gymnasium Friday (Feb. 22).
Class AA Miss Basketball Finalist Abbey Sissom scored 26 points to lead the Lionettes. Madison Walkup added 12 points and Abby Jakes finished with 10 for Cannon County.
“There is always the unknown when you are playing a team for the first time,” Jakes said. “Our fans are great and we had another great crowd for the region game. We just wanted to get off to a good start and build on that.”
The Lionettes were able to get the start they wanted.
Cannon County led 22-11 after the first quarter and looked as though it was going to run the Lady Chargers out of the gym; however, sophomore post Joanna Smith had other ideas.
Smith scored 24, including 16 in the first half, to keep Chattanooga Christian in the game. Mary Sabourin added 11 for the Lady Chargers.
Chattanooga Christian trailed 36-32 early in the third quarter but Cannon County used a 16-4 run that included contributions from several Lionettes, including Rebekah Faulkner, Madison Walkup and Macy Clements; however, the backbreakers were provided by Jakes and Sissom.
Jakes came up with a steal and then found Sissom open on the right wing for a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 43-33 with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter. The quarter ended with Jakes coming up with another steal and finding a wide open Sissom, who buried a 3-pointer to provide a 52-36 lead at the end of three quarters.
Sissom finished with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including five 3-pointers, along with five assists and five steals.
Jakes had another strong contribution across the board with 10 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds.
“We put together a strong run in the third quarter that allowed us to finally pull away and put Chattanooga Christian away,” Cannon County Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “(Smith) is an good player for them and kept them in the game. We are just glad to advance into the region semifinals and keep our season alive.”
All four District 8-AA girls teams won first-round region games so the Region 4-AA semifinals is an all District 8-AA affair with Cannon County playing Upperman and Livingston Academy facing York. The two winners reach the Substate round.