By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
The winningest season in Cannon County girls basketball history ended on a sour note when the No. 2-ranked Lionettes suffered a 67-49 setback against No. 8 Fulton in the quarterfinals of the TSSAA Class AA Girls State Tournament last week.
Cannon County (33-5) liked its chances with a veteran team that included four senior starters and had played at MTSU’s Murphy Center for the state tournament three times in the last four years.
Its opponent, Fulton, was making the school’s first state tournament appearance and started two freshmen.
“We thought we could use our experience to our advantage but it didn’t work out that way,” said senior Abbey Sissom, who scored 13 points and capped her career as the program’s No. 2 all-time leading scorer with 2,606 points. “Fulton came to play.”
In addition to Sissom’s 13 points, Madison Walkup scored 13, Rebekah Faulkner produced a double double with 12 points and 15 rebounds, and Erin McReynolds finished with 10 points. Macy Clements added eight rebounds.
Fulton freshman post KeKe McKinney was the real story. She poured in 22 points and tied Faulkner for game-high rebounding honors with 15.
“She’s the best post I’ve faced all year,” Faulkner said. “She finished her shots. She was good. I’m really proud of my team. This is not what we expected. We’ve done so well all year so it just sucks to end like this.”
Cannon County dominated the boards, 50-33, including an eye-popping 29 offensive rebounds. Cannon County also turned the ball over an uncharactertic 23 times, and Fulton scored 26 points off of those miscues.
“If you would have told me coming out of this game we would have 29 offensive rebounds and we get beat, I would take my chances,” Lionettes Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “We just didn’t play well and they had a lot to do with that. We just didn’t handle it. These girls have had a great high school career. I’m proud of them.”
The loss marked the end of the prep careers for Clements, Faulkner, Sissom, Walkup and Taylor Warren.
They were part of 117 wins in their four years as Lionettes. Cannon County played in three state tournaments during this four-year span.