LOG MOUNTAIN — Clay County showed they still have what it takes to be the queens of the 13th Region on Monday as the Lady Tigers held on for a 47-42 win at Bell County and snapped the Lady Cats’ winning streak at seven games.
Senior post players Cheyenne Madded and Morgan Chesnut led Clay with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Sara Robinson and Ajaycia Cotton added eight points apiece in the win.
Bell County was led by sophomore guard Maci Moris with 10 points while junior Morgan Garnett added nine and freshman Katrina Johnson delivered eight points off the bench.
“We played well enough defensively to win the ball game but we didn’t offensively. We settled for too many shots from the perimeter, too many threes, and we didn’t get enough movement in our offense,” said Bell coach David Teague. “Clay County is obviously the team that most people set their standards by the last few years where they’ve won this region. Our kids wanted this game, but we’ve just got to keep working and building.”
The Lady Tigers led 12-10 after one quarter and 26-22 at the half. Then opened the third quarter with a 7-1 run to build their biggest lead of the night. Madden scored six of her points during that spurt, including two baskets off offensive rebounds, and Chesnut added a free throw as Clay’s lead was 33-23 by the 4:32 mark of the quarter.
“Those two down inside are a hard match-ups for most people. They’ve got a lot of size down there and they’re just strong kids,” Teague said. “I felt like as the game went along we did alright (keeping them off the boards). They scored 14 and 12 points, which is probably below both of their averages. But they got some key baskets at the wrong times for us.”
The Lady Cats battled back with a jumper from Morris and 3s from Garnett and Johnson. Sara Collins scored inside after Garnett penetrated and found her wide open under the basket and a runner in the lane from Garnett brought Bell within 38-35 by the end of the third quarter.
Bell hit seven 3-pointers in the game, but went 0-for-4 from downtown in the fourth quarter. Their press helped to create six turnovers in the final period, but the Lady Cats turned it over seven times themselves and were never able to get closer than three the rest of the way.
Clay’s Robinson came up with a steal on the opening possession of the quarter and Madden scored after a nice little spin move in the post. After Johnson hit a pair of free throws for the Lady Cats, Cotton knocked down a 3 from the corner to put the Lady Tigers up 43-37 with 5:20 to play.
The teams traded steals and Cotton came up with the last one and took it all the way in for a layup to push the lead back to eight.
After another exchange of turnovers, Morris scored on a give-and-go play with Paige Robbins. One free throw from Garnett and two from Morris brought Bell within 45-42 with 1:14 remaining.
Cotton hit both ends of the bonus, then the Lady Cats missed a 3 and the Lady Tigers would go on to win by five.
“The things that hurt us was just the inability to make shots and too many silly turnovers. Even when we’d come up with a steal or a good defensive play, we couldn’t reward ourselves for it and go get a basket. We’d either turn it back over or miss the shot or get to the line and miss the free throws,” Teague said. “Sometimes you have nights like that, but I was pleased with their effort throughout the second half. We went to the press to try and speed the game up and get us going, but we just weren’t able to convert.”
Bell County (17-4) plays at Jackson County on Friday while Clay County (17-4) visits Lexington Catholic on Saturday.
“We’ve got a little less than a month left in the season and I feel like there are five or six teams right there in the mix. If we’ll keep working and stay positive we can hopefully be one of those teams,” Teague added. “We saw a lot of good things there at the end defensively that we can build on. Part of my job is to find ways to make us better offensively.”
— — —
Clay Co….12…14…12…9 — 47
Bell Co…..10…12…13…7 — 42
CLAY COUNTY (47): Cheyenne Madden 14, Morgan Chesnut 12, Sara Robinson 8, Ajacia Cotton 8, TaLaura Mathis 5, Briana Smith 0, Courtney Woods 0.
BELL COUNTY (42): Maci Morris 10, Morgan Garnett 9, Katrina Johnson 8, Paige Robbins 5, Sarah Collins 4, Jess Sanders 3, Kelli Smith 3.