Lionettes Proud, But Not Satisfied

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MURFREESBORO - It took the No. 1-ranked team in Tennessee to end Cannon County's quest for a state championship.

No. 1 McMinn Central (34-1) turned back No. 8 Cannon County, 52-41, in the semifinals of the TSSAA Class AA Girls State Championships at MTSU's Murphy Center Friday afternoon, ending one of the best seasons in program history.

"I'm definitely proud of our team and how far we have come, but I don't think I will ever be satisfied," said senior Taylor King, who finished with six points and 10 rebounds. "I just feel like this was our game, this was our tournament and this was our time. We just didn't get it so I don't think there is any satisfaction."

It marked the second straight year McMinn Central ended Cannon County's season. The Lady Chargerettes stopped the Lionettes (30-8) in the Sub-state round last year - one game shy of the state tournament.

This time McMinn Central stopped Cannon County one game shy of what would have been the school's fifth appearance in the championship game. Cannon County, which dealt McMinn Central its only loss of the season in November, was making its first state tournament appearance in 19 years.

"McMinn Central is a good team but we beat them once and we know we could have beat them again," said senior Emily Sissom, who scored eight points and had two assists. "That's what makes this hurt worse. They are not better than us but we didn't play our best game today. It was right there for us to take and we fell short."

Cannon County's players did not put together one of their better games of the season but still battled and was in a one-possession game in the fourth quarter despite shooting just 25 percent (10-of-39) from the field, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range. The off-shooting game also reared its head at the free-throw line where the Lionettes were an uncharacteristic 60 percent (20-of-33).

Chelsey Payne, who led the Lionettes with 14 points and eight rebounds, was 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Take those out and Cannon County was a stunning 10-of-23 (43 percent) from the charity stripe.

"We missed way too many free throws in this game," Cannon County Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. "We just didn't make shots and whether that is a credit to McMinn Central's defense or us just not hitting shots, you never know, but I felt like we were getting the shots we wanted. They just didn't fall."

Cannon County connected on just 4-of-21 shots and was 0-of-7 from 3-point range in the first half when they fell behind 13-4 after the opening quarter and trailed 28-17 at halftime.

"It really wasn't a matter of their defense because we got shots. We just didn't knock them down," Sissom said.

McMinn Central forwards Elizabeth Masengil and Miss Basketball Finalist Jenna Adams were the story for the Lady Chargerettes. They combined for 35 of the team's 52 points and also collected 19 rebounds. Masengil led all scorers with 19 points and Adams added 16 points and 15 rebounds.

"They were really physical and it is hard as a small team to guard big, physical girls,"  Payne said. "We just had a lot of things that didn't go our way today. There were just a lot of things that hurt us. We missed shots we usually hit and we missed too many free throws."

Despite a poor first-half that not only included poor shooting, but also seven turnovers, Cannon County still believed it was in the game trailing by 11.

"We were down 11 at the half and we talked about getting it to five or less to start the fourth quarter and go from there," Dodgen said.

The Lionettes charged out of the locker room and used a 13-5 third quarter to narrow the deficit to 33-30 entering the final quarter. King and Sissom keyed the charge and were able to get Adams and Masengil in foul trouble with each collecting their fourth in the third quarter.

The Lionettes cut the lead to 35-33 on JoAnna Young's 3-pointer from the baseline with 7:36 remaining and her short jumper with 5:55 remaining kept Cannon County within two, 37-35. Just when it seemed the Lionettes had momentum Adams took over and led a 5-0 run as McMinn Central jumped back in front by seven, 42-35, with 4:53 remaining.

"It's like we exerted so much energy just to get there and we never could get over that final hurdle," Dodgen said. "The girls battled and battled and gave themselves a chance. They never quit."

Payne's layup with 2:50 remaining cut the lead to 42-39 but McMinn Central used a 10-2 run to close the game and end the Lionettes' dreams of securing what would have been just the second state title in school history.

Not being able to get Adams or Masengil out of the game in the fourth quarter, despite each having four fouls, was costly as they controlled the game and the boards down the stretch; however, Dodgen said Cannon County continued to go right at them, just as they did in the third quarter.

"From an offensive standpoint we didn't change anything we did in the third quarter during the fourth quarter," Dodgen said. "We kept attacking the basket and going at it. We had good looks. We didn't change. I don't know what the difference was (in contact not being called), but we didn't change."

There were other questionable calls throughout a game where officials Greg Mathis, Suzanne Byrd and Pete Norville combined to call 50 fouls. The teams combined for 58 free throws. Byrd hit Dodgen with a technical after Kelsey Young's 3-pointer pushed McMinn Central's lead to 28-17 with 20 seconds remaining in the half. Dodgen said he was telling Byrd that McMinn Central had six players on the court when he was called for the foul.

"The official handed the ball to the player and there were six girls on the court," Dodgen said. "The girls runs off the floor as the official is counting. If they didn't see it, they didn't see it. That's part of it. I voiced my opinion and I was penalized, so be it, but when six were on the floor, six were on the floor."

Had the sixth player been seen on the court when the ball was put in play then McMinn Central would have been hit with a technical, Young would not have hit the 3-pointer, and Cannon County would have regained possession in what was an eight-point game before the 3-pointer following six girls being on the court. It was a potential eight-point swing the Lionettes never had an opportunity to secure.

Another questionable call was an intentional foul called on Young, also by Byrd, with 56 seconds remaining in a five-point game.

"They said (Young) shoved (Masengil) from behind," Dodgen said. "It was a physical game. It was a game where a lot of things went down and there were a lot of kids rolling around on the floor. If (Young) shoved her and it was an intentional foul then it was an intentional foul, but there were a lot of things that went on that could have been called, intentional or not."

In the end, what opportunities Cannon County did receive at the free-throw line - 33 of them - were not taken advantage of as the Lionettes misfired on 13 attempts.

They did hold their own on the boards and were outrebounded 34-33 by the bigger McMinn Central team.

Young and Abbey Sissom scored five each for the Lionettes.

Cannon County's semifinal finish is the school's best since the Class AA State Championship team in 1989.
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Members Opinions:
March 11, 2011 at 4:40pm
Lionettes, you brought this town together! Be proud of all you have accomplished!
We are Cannon!
March 11, 2011 at 6:51pm
that was the WORST officiated game i think i have ever watched, and our game stats weren't too healthy looking either. but all in all good game and the number of cannon county fans outweighted the rest of every team there.
March 11, 2011 at 8:32pm
Lionettes: There are litterly hundreds of young ladies across the state that would have given practically anything to reach the level that you achieved. You all played with poise, dignity,determination and a total united team spirit. I know it's disappointing. But, you brought together a commmunity represented by the legion of fans that followed you. The fans love you. They
will feel for you, they will share your pain of today. but they will not blame you. Long after you have moved on, the team of 2010/11 will be remembered with fondness and appreciation and brought back in fans memory with every district, region and state game of the future.Hold your heads up. Be proud of what you accomplished. We are CANNON and we are proud of all of you.

March 11, 2011 at 10:10pm
Yes so proud of the girls today and this season, so proud of Cannon Co. fans we have had more support han any other school anywhere! But not happy about the horrible referees.....the lady one (PAT???) she was the WORST!
March 12, 2011 at 6:28am


I agree that the woman referee made some horrible calls. Game changers at a couple of different times, specifically the technical right before half and the intentional foul with under two minutes left.

I saw her talking to Joanna 30 seconds prior to the intentional being called.

A few more rolls and a few less calls on our girls would have made a world of difference.

Altogether, it was still an OUTSTANDING SEASON and one to definitely be PROUD of!
March 12, 2011 at 7:19am
Still so very proud of these girls. What an awesome season.
March 12, 2011 at 8:54am
We watched the championship game yesterday. Cannon vs. McMinn. Cannon didn't finish like we deserved to, but champions for sure! The calls were one sided for sure, but LIONETTES have so much to be proud of. GREAT SEASON GIRLS!
March 12, 2011 at 11:30am
No one should ever get down about loosing to the number one team in the District. Didn't like the refs calls, and you could see it on the girls faces when a bad call was made.
March 12, 2011 at 11:56am
Both teams are to be proud of, I saw good sportmanship on the floor and in the crowd. I wish I could say the same for at least one of the parents. I was sitting with a group and a lady kept standing. When asked to sit down where the rest could see the game without breaking our necks she replied she paid ten dollars for that seat and she was going to stand. So a group of us got up and moved. I was told she was a cannon county teacher. I hope that her expectations of her students are that they don't follow her example. Because, she did not show any repect for the other people which had also paid ten dollars for their seats.
March 12, 2011 at 1:48pm
Thank you Coach Dodgen and all of the Lionettes. This has been a fantastic winter and one that I will always remember because of all of you. No one will ever be able to take away your accomplishments, and because of you,"WE ARE CANNON"!
March 12, 2011 at 3:48pm
We didn't lose, we just ran out of time. So very proud of our Lionettes.
March 12, 2011 at 4:29pm

Apparently we have a couple of people
(krisandcris), who 1) don't recognize that
six (6) players on the floor (McMinn co) is a technical foul, 2) a player who does not check in (McMinn Co) is a technical foul (both uncalled) and 3) a coach (Micheal Dodgen) not the Mcminn coach or the refs, who is smart enough to recognize both but gets a technical for pointing out the violations. Those two were just two of many. The woman ref was, fundamentally, one of McMinn's better players. Not sour grapes, just reality.
March 12, 2011 at 7:48pm
Bob from earlier post....did you go to the same game as we (Cannon county fans) went to? We fans who adore our teams, both boys and girls, witness a game where the refs did make the difference. When the girls beat them earlier in the year the refs didn't decide the game....In yesterday's game they played a big part of the final outcome. It's runoured the female ref is from McMinn County but again just a rumor. the girls have owned up for the loss, and aren't blaming the refs...they know they had the opportunity to win....So get real and don't ever think McMinn Central is that good.

Jimbo do you live in Cannon County or do you live in McMinn County and happened to find out local paper on the internet??????
We have vocal fans who support our teams. Get up off your behind and cheer with us or go sit in your own section. Lay off the teachers or other CC fans ...again we are a vocal bunch...which means we stand and shout to support our team...
March 12, 2011 at 10:05pm
I agree with JIMBO some people take sports way to serious. Corey I noticed that you are in support of a middle school for the future of our children's education. If education was so important then why do the students miss school to play ball games? Did everyone get out of school or just players?
March 13, 2011 at 6:52am
Victos if you have kept up with my comments you would know that I have said repeatedly that we cannot build any school at this time due to financial constraints.

You would also know that my opinion on the matter is that we should build a new High School and not a Middle School if we did have the money.

You would also know that at this time I favor consolidation of the six Grammar schools as a way to solve our financial problems we currently face.

As far as the students getting out of school one and half hours early on Friday, I see it like this. They deserved the opportunity to go see their sister play in the State Championship, their parent deserved the opportunity to see their child play, the community as whole deserved that opportunity and I don't think leaving school 1.5 hours early is going to keep any student from attending Harvard in the fall.

And lastly, this is a topic on how well our Lady Lionettes played, performed and brought our little community together this year and made us so very proud to be from Cannon County and not one about a Middle School. That is another forum, so please stay focused on the topic at hand.
March 13, 2011 at 8:57am
Girls take pride in that fact that you were the only team that beat the state champs.
March 13, 2011 at 9:52am
There is NOTHING wrong with her wanting to stand the shole time to support our girls!! Maybe we all should take note and stand and cheer a little more instead of sitting on our hands! She loves these girls and has watched them group up. So, to "this lady who stands up way too much" (lol) keep it up. Keep showing your love and support!

Way to go girls!! What a outstanding year! We love ya'll and could not be prouder!
March 13, 2011 at 4:57pm
Jumbo and victos....please put your house up for sale and get out of cannon co. If u moved in this county,please go back there. Here in cannon co we support our kids. We love our sports here and getting out a little early is no big deal.
March 14, 2011 at 8:12am
Nobody is reading this anymore, so I get the last word hahaha!
March 14, 2011 at 7:33pm
Jack I was born and raised here, and as far as supporting your kids maybe some of you should try and raising them. I'm just tired of hearing people complain about education and then let then out of school to play ball. We wonder why the children are behind other countries. This would be one reason we push them to play to get scholarships and then they never really learn.
March 15, 2011 at 6:32am
Victos, you seriously need to let the education thing go about leaving school one and a half hours early. We send kids home early all of the time for snow, rain, a parade, Home Coming, the Good Ole Days, etc.

Those kids leaving early to attend the ballgame is not what is causing our students to have low test scores or not get scholarships.

A majority of the Grammar School kids would be at recess during that time period any way.

There are many reasons why we struggle educationally in Cannon County, but letting our students out one and a half hours early to attend a State Championship game for the first time in 22 years is not one of them.
March 15, 2011 at 9:27pm
Dear God please let these so called intelligent people find somewhere else to quarrel like a bunch of pre-schoolers..No wonder our children loose respect for adults.If any of them read some of these "OPINIONS" as they are so-called;I can certainly understand what's happening to our children.STOP your foolish over being big-dog who gets the last word.Sad that's about all to be said for you..
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