By TONY STINNETT
MURFREESBORO - Something had to give when Cannon County put one of the state's top offensive teams on the court against a Central Magnet team regarded as one of the state's stingiest in a District 8-AA contest here Tuesday (Dec. 4).
The Lionettes (8-0, 2-0) remained undefeated with a 74-51 triumph in their first road encounter of the season against a Central Magnet team that was limiting foes to 24.8 points per game. Central (5-1, 0-1) suffered its first loss after allowing Cannon County to explode for 74 points.
Cannon County is the state's 12th-highest scoring team at 63.7 points per game and the Lionettes kicked it into high gear against a Central Magnet defense ranked fifth statewide for fewest points per game (24.8).
Abbey Sissom led the Lionettes with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range. The District 8-AA Player of the Year candidate produced another stat-sheet stuffer. In addition to her game-high 24 points, Sissom dished out six assists, collected five steals and grabbed five rebounds.
"We knew this was going to be a tough challenge because Central is much improved," Sissom said. "They are very good defensively and they really challenge you. It was going to take a good team effort and we had that tonight. It was also good to go on the road and have a positive result."
The Lionettes had three players in double figures and continued to display the great depth that has led to a perfect start. Reserves Madison Walkup and Rebekah Faulkner continued to provide consistent performances. Walkup finished with 12 points and was also active in other areas with three rebounds, two steals and two assists. Walkup, a junior, was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Faulkner has been a solid force in the paint. She finished with 11 points and pulled three rebounds.
Central utilized a triangle-and-two defense early in an effort to slow Sissom and Abby Jakes - two of the team's top offensive threats. This ploy put the onus on other players to make a difference and they did.
Jakes finished with six rebounds, six steals and two assists. Sissom and Jakes combined for 29 points but if you take away their point production the stellar guards still impacted the game by combining for eight assists, 11 steals and 11 rebounds.
"(Sissom) is going to draw everybody's best assignment and she accepts that," Cannon County Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. "She still gets her shots and she does a great job of getting others involved. (Sissom) is averaging almost seven assists per game so when teams are doubling her she finds the open player. (Central) played a triangle-and-two and that's the first time we have seen that. Other players had to step up and I felt (Walkup, Faulkner, Jordan Hollis, Adrianna Kailiponi and Emily Pemberton) all stepped up and played well during our run.
"I told our girls it's difficult for people to play junk defenses if you take care of your business so I was proud of them in this effort."