Lionettes Stung Early By Lady Bees, Fall 50-36

TONY STINNETT, Courier Co-Editor

BAXTER - Winning a District 8-AA basketball game at Upperman never is easy.

Hitting just three shots in the first half makes it nearly impossible as Cannon County found out the hard way in a 50-36 setback at Upperman in the league opener for both teams here Friday (Dec. 2).

Abbey Sissom led Cannon County in scoring with 10 points, followed by Lindsey Reed and Joanna Young with nine points each, as the Lionettes (6-1, 0-1) suffered their first loss in seven games.

"Games like this happen. I just hate it happened in this situation," Lionettes Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. "We got our head down early and you can't do that when you are going to be a good basketball team. This team is going to be OK but we have to come out and play better at the start than we did tonight."

Cannon County managed just one first-quarter field goal and it was 3-of-21 in the decisive first half. While the Lionettes couldn't buy a basket, Upperman (4-1) seemingly couldn't miss on its way to a 17-3 first-quarter lead that had swelled to 29-8 by halftime. Kristen Smith's halfcourt, buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the half summed up the first 16 minutes.

The Lionettes' inability to hit shots in the opening half prevented them from getting into their full-court press and made things a bit more comfortable for the Lady Bees.

"We just didn't play well in the first half," Sissom said. "That's two straight games that we didn't have a good first half but against a good team like Upperman you make it hard on yourself by not playing as well as you are capable from the beginning. We fought back but we got too far down."

Trailing by 21, Cannon County closed to 13 twice late in the third quarter but could never get over the hump despite having four straight opportunities off of two defensive stops and two forced turnovers.

"The girls came out and played hard in the second half we have to look at the positives," Dodgen said. "We made a run and had four chances to cut deeper into the lead but we couldn't convert. If we do and are able to cut it to single digits it could have been a different game in the fourth quarter."

Klaudia Hull proved to be the difference maker for Upperman. She scored a game-high 18 points and her back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter were daggers. Her second consecutive trey pushed the lead to 18, 48-30, with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter. Point guard Taylor Randolph added 15 points and Kat Carter tallied 12 for the Bees.

"(Hull) is a good shooter and we knew that," Dodgen said. "She has worked hard on her game from last season. The combination of Randolph penetrating and kicking it to her was tough."

The Lionettes return to action when they face Central Magnet in 8-AA action at Robert A. Harris Gymnasium Tuesday.