Lady ‘Landers lose late lead, fall to Cosby

Published 7:34 am Wednesday, February 27, 2019

KINGSPORT – Cloudland held a one-point lead going into the fourth quarter of its Region 1-A girls basketball quarterfinal against No. 1 seed Cosby. Unfortunately, the Lady Highlanders were unable to hold that lead despite poor free throw shooting from the Lady Eagles and Cloudland fell 48-42 at J. Richard Carroll gymnasium.
Cosby employed a full-court press defense for much of the game, and it forced Cloudland (23-8) into numerous turnovers – a fact that was painfully evident to Lady ‘Landers head coach Mike Lunsford.
“We didn’t do a good job of passing the ball up the court,” Lunsford said. “We were hesitant, and we were kind of afraid to make the next pass. Then we started making it, and that’s when we got the lead. Then we missed a lot of easy shots, had a four-point lead, and got the ball inside but didn’t shoot it.”
Cosby opened with a nine-point run to stake the squad to an 11-6 first-period advantage, which they extended to 21-14 at the break. Guard Braylyn McGaha had eight of her game-high 18 points in the first half, along with Leia Groat who finished with 15 points.
In the third period, the ‘Landers began whittling away at the Eagles lead, and a 3-ball from Heaven Caraway gave Cloudland a 33-32 lead going into the final period and brought their fans to their feet.
In the fourth quarter, Cosby shot 9-for-14 (64.2 percent) from the charity stripe which helped keep Cloudland within striking distance, but turnovers were a big factor. The ‘Landers led 40-37 on a trey from senior guard Megan Lunsford and 42-38 after a deuce from Jazmine Birchfield with under three minutes remaining.
Groat then connected on a 3-ball and after a turnover scored a two-point bucket to give Cosby back the lead at 43-42 and they never trailed from there. In the tearful aftermath, the three ‘Landers seniors expressed their love for one another.
“I would have done anything for them,” senior post Stacia Wilson said, and senior forward Trinity Vines echoed that sentiment saying, “We were more than a family. We were all so close, and I loved playing with them so much.”
For Lunsford the emotions were evident and she said, “It is indescribable. It was the best thing that anyone could imagine. My dad was the best coach I could hope for, and Trinity and Stacia were both amazing. I love them so much.”
Wilson led Cloudland with 12 points with Vines scoring nine and Lunsford adding eight.
Region 1A quarterfinal
Cosby 48-42
Cloudland (42)
Wilson 12, Freeman 6, Lunsford 8, Vines 9, Caraway 3, K. Birchfield 2, J. Birchfield 2.
Cosby (48)
McGaha 18, Myers 2, Groat 15, Ford 6, Miller 5, Hurley 2.
Cloudland 6 8 19 9 – 42
Cosby 11 10 11 16 – 48
3-point goals : Cl 4 (Vines 2, Lunsford, Caraway 1), C 5 (Groat 3, McGaha, Ford 1).

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