HARTSVILLE – Trousdale County employed a box-and-one defense aimed at slowing Cannon County scoring sensation Abbey Sissom in the semifinals of the Trousdale County Holiday Tournament here Thursday (Dec. 29).
Others have tried the same ploy. They, too, have failed.
Sissom, who is averaging 20.1 points per game, nearly outscored the entire Trousdale County team. The sophomore standout scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Lionettes (14-3) to a 74-28 win. Cannon County will face District 8-AA rival Smith County in the championship game tonight (Friday, Dec. 30) at 7 p.m. at Trousdale County High School.
“I tried not to get frustrated (against the box-and-one) defense,” Sissom said. “I tried to penetrate more and work without the ball to get open. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball, and I was able to knock down some shots. We all did a good job of hitting open shots.”
In addition to Sissom’s 26 points, five steals and four rebounds, Lindsey Reed almost produced a triple double. The senior do-it-all player had seven points, nine rebounds, seven steals and five assists. Madison Simons and Jordan Hollis added eight points each.
“I’m really proud of the effort,” Cannon County Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “They came out and tried a box-and-one on Abbey and she scores 26. That’s either bad defense or the player was really working without the ball to get open. Abbey worked hard and had a good night because of her effort.”
Cannon County enjoyed one of its best shooting nights. The Lionettes shot 60 percent (9-of-15) in the first quarter to establish themselves. They shot 44 percent (29-of-66) for the game. The only poor shooting quarter for Cannon County was the second, when it shot 5-of-21, including 1-of-11 from 3-point range.
It wasn’t offense; however, that displeased Dodgen at the half. It was the defensive effort as Cannon County allowed 12 second-quarter points and led 35-21 at the half.
“I just thought 21 points in the first half was too much,” Dodgen said. “I didn’t feel like we played well enough defensively in the second quarter so I challenged them at halftime. I told them I would like to see us hold Trousdale County to 10 or less in the second half because I thought we were capable of doing that.”
Dodgen was right.
Cannon County limited Trousdale County to just two second-half field goals. Its first successful attempt of the third quarter came with less than three minutes remaining. Trousdale County was 2-of-13 (15 percent) in the second half.
“Coach Dodgen really challenged us at halftime,” Sissom said. “He said he expected us to hold them to 10 points or less and that pumped us up about our defense. We held them to seven points.”
Sissom scored 13 of her 26 in the third quarter, including the first eight in succession, as Cannon County increased its lead to 43-21. By the end of the quarter, the Lionettes had opened a 55-24 advantage. Sissom scored 13 of the team’s 20 points in the third quarter and Reed added five.
Dodgen primarily utilized reserves from midway in the third quarter until the end of the game and the young Lionettes gave no ground. In fact, they continued to increase the lead and play sound defense. Trousdale County connected for just 11 field goals (two in the second half) and shot 32 percent for the game.
“I was proud of the kids who went in at the halfway point of the third quarter to the end of the game because they didn’t stop playing,” Dodgen said. “They played hard and they hit easy shots. You can’t tell players not to advance the ball when (the opponent) is not getting back so I’m proud of the kids for running the floor the way they did. I really thought we did a good job of advancing the basketball.”
Madison Walkup (6), Joanna Young (4), Erin McReynolds (4), Arianna Kailiponi (3) and Taylor Warren (3) also got into the scoring act for the Lionettes.