In a clash of two of Tennessee’s premier girls basketball programs, one had to go home empty-handed.
The Cumberland County Lady Jets was that team as they were defeated 55-49 at Clarkrange Tuesday night. The Lady Jets were held to just two points in the second period in the loss.
“We did not come out as a team ready to start this game,” said CCHS head coach Radhika Miller. “We struggled getting started defensively early. Offensively, we struggled to find anybody to put the ball in the basket. We struggled to find a way to score.”
Clarkrange dictated the tempo in the first half and forced CCHS into early foul trouble as junior guard Lauren Tabor, the team’s perimeter defensive leader, was forced to sit a majority of the half.
“Lauren getting in foul trouble early hurt us,” added Miller. “She’s a key to our defensive ball pressure.”
Addy Wilson blocked a Lady Buffalo three-pointer that led to a Gracee Dishman layup to beat the buzzer, cutting the Clarkrange lead to 10-9 at the end of the first period.
The second period was all Clarkrange as the Lady Buffalos outscored CCHS 11-2 in the frame to take a 21-11 lead into the locker room. Dishman had all 11 Lady Jet points in the first half.
“When we have balanced scoring and have players step up and do their part, we do better,” Miller said.
The second half saw CCHS storm back due to their full court defensive pressure. Cumberland County finally caught up at the 2:09 mark in the third quarter as freshman Josi Smith recorded a steal that resulted in a Dishman layup to tie the contest at 28 each. CCHS broke through to take the lead with 16 seconds remaining in the period via a three-pointer by senior Kiara Wilson. CCHS led 33-32 going into the final period.
“Against a team like Clarkrange, you’ve got to be able to give them some full court pressure,” Miller said of the comeback. “When we go look at film, they were probably able to run four minutes off the clock. In the second half, we knew we were going to have to get pressure on them.”
CCHS and Clarkrange traded baskets and leads throughout the early portion of the fourth period. Cumberland County held a 42-40 lead with less than three minutes remaining before Clarkrange came up with two consecutive steals to take a 44-42 lead.
Jessica Hedgecoth was able to tie the contest at 44 via a baseline jumper, but the Jets would come no closer as Clarkrange outscored CCHS 11-5 in the final 2:30 to win 55-49.
Dishman finished the contest with 34 points including 8-9 from the free throw line.
Cumberland County falls to 3-2 on the season with the loss. CCHS will regroup and host Class AAA Rhea County on Tuesday, Dec. 4, in their next contest.
Cumberland County (49): Gracee Dishman 34, Kiara Wilson 6, Jessica Hedgecoth 6, Addy Wilson 3