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Lady Red ride defense, Wester to district win

Lady Red junior Mika Wester led all scorers with a 27-point outing in Monday’s 47-43 win over Morristown East. Wester scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including nine in the final four minutes of the game.
Published: 3:06 PM, 01/14/2014 Last updated: 3:10 PM, 01/14/2014

Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

MORRISTOWNFaced with tough circumstances, the Cocke County Lady Red kept their cool on the
road in a key District 2-AAA game on Monday night.

Cocke County rode another balanced effort between the offense of junior Mika Wester and a tenacious defensive effort to their third straight victory. Westers hot hand allowed the Lady Red to pull away down the stretch as they took a 47-43 decision over Morristown East at Isenberg-Siler Gymnasium.

Wester scored a game-high 27 points, including 11 of the teams 12 fourth quarter points, in leading the Lady Red (11-10, 4-4 District 2-AAA) to the win, which vaulted them into sole possession of fourth place in the district. The win comes on the heels of a 56-50 win over CAK on Saturday afternoon.

Cocke County also kept two of the Lady Hurricanes leading scorers in check, limiting Whitney Donaldson and Jordan Hayes to just five combined points in the second half.

Despite the success however, Cocke County had to overcome adversity in a tough road environment and rally for a win. Morristown East (7-12, 2-6) took a one-point lead with 4:15 to play in the game, but the Lady Red were able to keep their composure and earn the win.

Second-year Cocke County coach Jeremy Byrd was proud of the way his team kept their cool down the stretch, despite playing in a tough road environment. The Lady Red also had to overcome having eight team fouls to Morristown Easts zero in the second half, until the final 3:07 of the game. The Lady Hurricanes were only whistled for two fouls in the game until that point.

Keeping our composure has not been typical for us this season, but the last two games, we have done a really good job of keeping our composure in tough situations, Byrd said. Im really proud of them, because it doesnt get much tougher than tonight with the circumstances we faced out there.

To get a win over an awesome CAK team and follow it up with a win tonight on the road, I feel like we keep getting better each and every game, Byrd said.

Cocke County twice threatened to pull away in the game, as they led by nine points late in the first half and by eight in the third period, but each time the Lady Hurricanes came roaring back.

A 7-2 run got Morristown East back into the game from the initial nine-point Cocke County lead, then after the lead was pushed back out to eight, the Lady Hurricanes were within 35-31 at the end of the third quarter.

While Morristown East kept the game within striking distance, Byrd was pleased at his teams defensive effort. With no one on the roster, aside from Wester, scoring more than four points, the remainder of the team has made their on doing the little things to keep the other team in check.

I think it all starts on the defensive end and weve gotten better on defense, Byrd said. They understand Mika is going to score her points, but they know all the hustle stats with steals and rebounds take points away (from the opponent) and give us opportunities on our end.

Those stats go unseen in the papers, but the girls have to be really unselfish to care about stuff like that, Byrd said.

Morristown East senior forward Lauren Blaylock was again kept in check by Lady Red senior Kaitlyn
Martin for the second time this year and held to just two first half points.

Kaitlyn Martin is busting her tail, Byrd said. Its her senior year and shes told me all year that shes tired of losing and wants to know what we have to do to win, and shes kept on keeping on.

In addition to the effort in the paint, Lady Canes point guard Whitney Donaldson scored just three points in the second half, being stalked defensively by Sharina Cofield.

Cocke Countys defensive effort has also been bolstered in the past three games by the return of Allison Ball. Despite coming off the bench and being limited on offense, the senior has made a valuable difference on defense the past three games.

The main thing Allison has brought back is her energy, she just gives us an extra bounce out there, Byrd said. That means more to this team right now, because in that stretch where we were 1-6, we didnt have that energy.

She also brings steals, more rebounds and even some made left-handed free-throws, Byrd said.

With the Lady Hurricanes back within striking distance entering the fourth quarter, they used a 7-2 run to take a lead with 4:15 to play on a three-pointer by Donaldson.

However, despite already being the games leading scorer, Morristown East was unable to keep Cocke Countys top offensive weapon in check. Wester, who is averaging 21.8 points over the last four games, scored nine points over the final four minutes of the game to help her team retake the lead and put the game on ice.

She just continues to get better each and every game, said Byrd of Westers play over the last four games, in which shes scored 17 or more points. Shes definitely a special player.

Wester scored seven straight points, in a critical stretch in which the team got stops on defense, that gave the Lady Red a 44-38 lead with 1:45 to play.

Cocke County made 3-of-5 free-throws during the final minute of play to take a seven-point lead, before Blaylock hit a three-pointer in the final seconds to cut the final margin to four points.

The Lady Red host District 2-AAA foe Cherokee tonight in a 6:30 p.m. game.

COCKE COUNTY (47): Mika Wester 27, McKenzie Gregg 4, Allison Ball 4, Kaitlyn Martin 4, Makayla Valentine 3, Sharina Cofield 2, Taylor Thornton 2, Hannah Miller 1.

MORRISTOWN EAST (43): Lauren Blaylock 13, Whitney Donaldson 10, Katelyn Davidson 8, Jordan Hayes 7, Madison Bunch 3, Ellie-Kate Williams 2.

3-POINT FG: CC (1): Valentine, ME (4): Donaldson 2, Blaylock, Bunch.

Lady Red top CAK

Avenging a 34-point November loss, the Lady Red used a hot start to take a 56-50 win over CAK on Saturday. Cocke County used a 17-2 run to start the game to gain momentum and then held on to earn the win.

Mika Wester led Cocke County with 17 points, while Kaitlyn Martin added 13, including six key points in both the first and fourth quarter. CAK was paced by Kaycee Heitzman, who scored 29. Anna Hammaker was limited to nine points.

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