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Lady Champs' Rally Falls Short In District Title Game

The Cascade Lady Champions pose with the District Runners-Up plaque for the first time in 10 years.
The Cascade Lady Champions pose with the District Runners-Up plaque for the first time in 10 years.
David Smith

In the program’s first District Championship Game appearance in 10 years, the Cascade Lady Champions second half rally came up short against the top seed in District 9-AA, the Cannon County Lionettes, 52-36, in Bell Buckle on Thursday.

Sophie Ray led the way for Cascade with 14 points, but despite cutting the lead to as close as 40-28 with 5:48 to go in the fourth quarter, the Lady Champs never really got comfortable against the length and athleticism of the Lionettes. 

Abbilyn Teter had a game-high 17 points and Jenna Bush put in 14 points herself, but it was a struggle to score at times against the tenacious 3-2 zone employed by Lady Champs’ head coach Janie Demonbreum.

Sophie Ray, who patrolled the top of the zone as a rover of sorts, was wreaking havoc on Abi Alexander for the majority of the night, never letting her or any of Alexander’s teammates get comfortable offensively. Unfortunately, the Lionettes were relentless both on the offensive glass and defensively, utilizing their size and length to frustrate Cascade.

After Kaegan Young was the best player on both ends of the court for all 32 minutes in the District 9-AA semi-final on Tuesday night against Community, she looked out of sorts and bothered for the majority of this contest due to the defense and personnel of Cannon County. She finished with only eight points, six turnovers, and struggled at the free throw line, finishing 2/8 from the charity stripe.

All five starters for the Lionettes received All-District honors for the regular season, and it was on full display from the opening tip. Cannon County held a 12-4 lead after the first quarter with Cascade’s only field goal being a Kaydence Miller three-pointer from the top of the key.

For the first four minutes or so of the second quarter, the Lioinettes’ length continued to give the Lady Champs serious problems, but the tournament hosts stayed true on the defensive end. Then, Kaegan Young intercepted a pass on the wing and went all the way for two immediately followed by a steal from Sophie Ray that led to another basket. Despite Teter connecting on a three to end the half, Cascade only trailed 27-18 and were still in the game despite committing 10 turnovers.

In the third quarter, Cannon County ratcheted up the defensive pressure once again, holding the Lady Champs to seven points in the period to take a 38-25 lead into the final frame. 

After Miller connected on her second three-pointer of the night to cut the lead to 40-28, the Lionettes quickly took a timeout. Visibly frustrated in the huddle with how the quarter began offensively, Cannon County came out with a plan to get to the basket as quickly as possible to beat the traps on the perimeter, and in the end it worked just well enough.

The Lady Champs just could not keep the pace offensively, especially due to some critical missed free throws down the stretch, and Cannon County held on to complete their perfect district season.

The Lionettes improve to 23-5 (8-0), ending a dominant district campaign with 10 double-digit wins in 10 games, and will host the loser of the District 10-AA consolation game between Mt. Pleasant and Smith Lewis County in the Region 5-AA quarterfinals next Friday.

The Lady Champs fall to 12-15 (4-4) but will host the winner of the District 10-AA consolation game in the Region 5-AA quarterfinal next Friday, LIVE on WZNG The Zinger 100.9 and AM 1400, starting at 6:45 p.m.

Cascade Lady Champions, Cannon County Lionettes