By Chris McCarthy/Editor
The Coosa Christian girls basketball team’s historic season came to a disappointing end in the semifinals of the Class 1A Northeast Regional Tournament last week.
Plagued by poor shooting, particularly in the second half, the Lady Conquerors fell to Skyline, 69-44, on Feb. 17 at Jacksonville State.
It was the first time in program history that the team made it to regionals.
“To be the first team from our school to play on this court is phenomenal,” said Coosa Christian head coach Jayme Hollingsworth. “The boys are out there right now, but we were the first to step on this floor.”
Despite its offensive struggles, Coosa (18-5) was behind by only 10 points at halftime. In fact, Claire Davidson’s basket at the 6:12 mark of the third quarter cut the deficit to single digits at 40-31.
But matters turned south for the Lady Conquerors (18-5) shortly thereafter. Davidson, the team’s leading scorer at 18 points per game, was whistled for her fourth foul at 4:34. The sophomore guard went to the bench for the remainder of the period, and her presence was sorely missed. The Lady Vikings outscored Coosa 20 to 9 in Davidson’s absence, and the Lady Conquerors never got within 22 points the rest of the way.
“Claire’s been our leading scorer almost every game this year, and a lot of it comes from her defense and Samara [Brewster’s] outstanding rebounding and outlet passes,” said Hollingsworth. “We usually get some good looks from that, and I though that [Skyline] did a good job of getting back on defense and cutting us off on our run-outs. It hurt us when Claire when out, but that’s part of the game.”
Coosa managed just four points and one field goal in the fourth quarter. The Lady Conquerors did not visit the foul line in the second half until 1:22 was left ion the game. Overall, Coosa shot 24 percent (5-for-21) from the free throw line.
“We weren’t as aggressive as we wanted to be driving the ball,” said Hollingsworth. “We were a little bit too passive in the second half.”
Brewster had a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds. She also had five assists and five blocks. Davidson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Neely Evetts had 10 points. Ashton Mills grabbed seven rebounds.
For Skyline (26-4), Summer Buckner went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc to finish with 15 points. Caity Ledwell added 12 points, followed by Haley Rollins with 10.
“We ran into a little bit of a buzz saw,” said Hollingsworth. “[Skyline] can really shoot the ball and light it up. The shots just weren’t falling for us today, but that doesn’t take anything away from our team.”
The Lady Vikings (25-7) shot only 44 percent from the field but went 55 percent (11-for-21) from the three-point line.
“Going in, I thought that we matched up pretty well,” said Hollingsworth. “We knew that [Ledwell] and [Bailee Usry] were outstanding shooters, and they had other players get loose tonight. We knew that they were going to trap on the wings, and our goal was to catch and dribble as soon as we could. But their speed caught us a little bit off guard. They were aggressive and played us very well on defense.”
Brewster’s put-back at 3:33 of the first quarter tied the game at 6-6, but the Lady Vikings took the lead for good with a 17-4 run.
Brewster helped keep the Lady Conquerors in the game in the second period with eight points, most of them off her offensive rebounds.
Davidson notched six points during the quarter as Coosa cut a 15-point deficit to 37-27 at halftime.
Baskets by Brewster and Davidson early in the second half kept the Lady Conquerors within striking distance, but three 3-pointers from Evetts the rest of the third quarter was no match for Skyline’s game-deciding run.
“With this being my first year here, I could not have started off with a better group of
seniors,” said Hollingsworth. “Somewhere around June 7, we set goals. We wanted to win the regular season area title and the area tournament and get to Jacksonville, and we accomplished all of those goals.
“I can’t be more proud of our five seniors – Samara, Mary Beth [Williamson], Neely,
Kathryn [Garrett] and Lauren [Reeves]. They led the way to for us to get here, and we hope to be here again next year.”