Photo: Coosa Christian’s Chloe Davidson (3) blocks the shot attempt of Decatur Heritage’s Elizabeth Wilson during the Lady Conquerors’ 71-42 loss in the Class 1A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals last Saturday (Feb. 20) in Gadsden. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Coming into the Northeast Regional semifinals, the Coosa Christian girls basketball team had not lost either to a Class 1A team or on its home court this season.
Both streaks ended at the hands of Decatur Heritage Christian Academy last Saturday (Feb. 20) at The Coliseum. The visiting Lady Eagles posted a 71-42 victory to earn a berth in the regional tournament championship game this week at Jacksonville State.
After hanging close for most of the first half, the Lady Conquerors fell behind by double digits late in the second quarter.
“[Decatur Heritage’s] size bothered us a little bit in the beginning, and they were hurting us on the offensive boards” said Coosa head coach Jayme Hollingsworth. “Their left-handed guard (Alexandra Jackson) did a good job of getting into the paint, which caused some defensive issues for us. We had issues getting our shots to fall, which is a credit to [DHCA]. They’re a really athletic team and took advantage of their size and quickness.”
Trailing 39-25 at halftime, Coosa could not close the gap the remainder of the contest.
Issues at the charity stripe hurt Coosa’s cause. The Lady Conquerors made 22 visits to the free throw line but shot 17 for 39 (43 percent).
“It just was an off day of us all around,” said Hollingsworth. “We struggled offensively in every aspect.”
The first quarter saw seven lead changed before DHCA emerged with 15-12 advantage. A pair of free throws by Davidson early in the second period put the Lady Conquerors ahead 19-17, but DHCA responded with a 14-3 run that gave the Lady Eagles a double-digit lead.
Millions was whistled for her third foul during that stretch, and with her on the bench for the remainder of the first half, DHCA extended its lead to 14 points at intermission.
“[DHCA] knew that Bella is our main ballhandler, and when she went out, they started and pressing and we started taking quick shots,” said Hollingsworth. “So they did a good job when Bella went out.”
Senior guard Chloe Davidson had 20 points before fouling out late in the third quarter, which further hampered Coosa’s efforts to get back within striking distance.
“Chloe was having a really good day offensively,” said Hollingsworth. “Once she went out, [DHCA] was able to really focus on Bella and try to take her away.”
Coosa managed only seven points during the third quarter, and the Lady Eagles took a 52-32 lead into the final eight minutes. The Lady Conquerors scored just five points from the field in the final eight minutes, ending Coosa’s season at 23-4.
Bella Millirons finished with 11 points, while Erin Snow scored five.
Ellie Metzger paced DHCA with 23 points, followed by Jackson with 15 and Sheryl Garner with 11.
“I told the girls after the game that we ran into a pretty good team and not to hang their heads,” said Hollingsworth. “They’re the first team in the program’s history to be ranked in the state, so I’m extremely proud of them.”
Hollingsworth appreciated what Davidson and fellow seniors Emma Littlejohn, Emily Justus, Katie Ellen Davis and Macy Martin brought to the program over the past several years.
“I think we’re 49-9 at home with this group over the past five, and we’re the only team in Etowah County team, boys or girls, to play for an area championship every year for the past five years. It’s impossible to replace the leadership that someone like Chloe brings, both on and off the court. Emma was out do-a-little-bit-of-everything player, and she and Chloe left everything on the court every night. Emily and Katie and Macy were the ultimate teammates and really brought the energy off the bench. Every one of those girls were phenomenal teammates and leaders across the board. We have some big shoes to fill.”