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Lady Eagles defense keys region tourney thriller

Cosby senior forward Lexiey Williams gets a shot off in the paint in the second half of Friday’s Region 1-A quarterfinal win over Hampton. Williams had eight points in the 35-33 victory.
Published: 1:09 PM, 02/22/2014

Author: Caleb Chrisman
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

COSBY—Cosby Lady Eagles head coach Richard Coggins said he had the worst headache he had ever experienced Friday night.

But after a thrilling 35-33 overtime win over Hampton in the Region 1-A quarterfinals, he didn’t seem to mind so much.

After making a free throw with 1.3 three seconds left to extend the Cosby lead to 35-33, junior Brooke Schreder wisely missed the second, and the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t manage to get a shot off in time as the Lady Eagles escaped with a huge postseason victory.

With the win, Cosby advances to take on North Greene Monday evening (7:30 p.m., RADIO: WLIK 1270-AM) in the semifinals at Chuckey-Doak Middle School. North Greene was the regular season champion in District 1-A and is led by ETSU signee and Miss Basketball Finalist, Mendy McNeese.

“To win and to have played as bad offensively as we played, that just says a lot about our defense,” Coggins said. “Offensively, we were just out of sync and nobody was going to their spots. We practiced all day to run what we were going to run. They just panicked a little bit.  

“Not taking care of the ball killed us tonight, but we somehow found a way to win. We got through this first one, and maybe the pressure is off of us now.”

The Lady Eagles (20-9) quickly jumped out in front in the overtime period with a three from Dessie Shaffer, and a pair of free throws from Bethanie Williams.

The Lady Bulldogs (18-14) answered with a 6-0 run of their own, as they rebounded to take a 32-31 advantage after back-to-back threes from Alexis Bowers.

After a pair of free throws from Bethanie Williams with 46 seconds left to put the Lady Eagles back in
front by one, they never relinquished their lead, despite playing the overtime without Lexiey Williams who fouled out.

Williams led Cosby with 12 points in the winning effort, marking one of the first times all year that the Lady Eagles had been able to take a close victory in a beefed up schedule this year.

“I’m going to tell you something we needed that might help us Monday night,” Coggins said. “We won a close game against a really good team. We’ve lost heartbreakers to Pigeon Forge. We let it get away from us against Gatlinburg in the fourth quarter both times. Meigs County beat us down there by five points. We had trouble winning that close game.

“Tonight, even as bad as we shot it, winning that close game might go a long way for us,” Coggins said.

Bowers had originally tied the game with a three with just 23 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime. She led all scorers with 18 points.

Cosby had a couple of great looks at the basket in the final seconds, but the Lady Bulldogs were able to breathe a sigh of relief as they had worked hard enough to see an extra four minutes, the score tied 26-26.

“Those girls are resilient. They’ve had a lot of injuries this year,” Hampton interim coach Bud Hazelwood said. “They lost their coach in December and I took over. They’re just resilient. They never quit. If we had made another shot or two, it would have been a different outcome.

“(Our players) have great character and they’re great kids. I’m proud of them, especially those seniors,” Hazelwood said. “They’ll hurt for a few days, but they’ll eventually get over it. I feel their pain right now, but they played a great game. Cosby played a great game. Two teams that are pretty even, it usually comes down to the final possession.”

The Lady Eagles and Lady Bulldogs were locked in a 6-6 tie after a quarter Friday night. Both teams struggled offensively, as Cosby’s Dessie Shaffer was the only Lady Eagle in the scoring column, having nailed a pair of threes.

Hampton’s Alexis Bowers hit a three, as well as a free throw, and Mady Weir also made a shot for the Lady Bulldogs first six points.

“All we did was work defensively on how we were going to guard them, and it won us the game,” Coggins said. “Defense will win games, and defense won tonight.

“We’re a lot better than that offensively. We know it, but Hampton had a great game plan. (Coach Hazelwood) has come in and done a nice job coaching them. Defense won the game tonight. We got stops when we needed to get stops.”

Hampton took a 12-9 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 6-0 run from the Lady Eagles pushed them back in front, 15-12.

A pair of buckets from senior Lexiey Williams and one from Sarah Conard showcased that the Lady Eagles could go inside against Hampton, rather than settle for outside shots against the zone.

Back-to-back free throws from Hampton’s Kim Swearinger chipped the lead to 15-14 heading into the half.

Hampton ended the third quarter with a 20-16 lead, as they took the first two-possession lead of the
game. Cosby scored just a lone free-throw by Bethanie Williams in the third period.

An 8-0 run in the fourth quarter from the Lady Eagles appeared to be the dagger, but the Lady Bulldogs kept fighting, and Bowers three ended up sending it to overtime.

COSBY (35): Bethanie Williams 12, Dessie Shaffer 10, Lexiey Williams 8, Brooke Schreder 3, Sarah Conard 2

HAMPTON (33): Alexis Bowers 18, Kim Swearinger 6, Tatum Street 6, Madi Weir 2, Monica Olvera 1

3-Point FG: C (4) Shaffer 3, B. Williams. H (5) Bowers 4, Street.

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