Picking up too late: Lady Tornadoes’ rally falls short against Cleveland
By Will Estep | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa dominated the fourth quarter against Cleveland on Monday night on the hardwood. The late success didn’t equate to a win, though, as Cleveland built up enough of a lead to hold on for a 56-48 victory at Alcoa High School.
Entering the fourth quarter trailing 50-34, the Lady Tornadoes went on a tear by playing tough defense and making shots on the offensive end against the Bradley County team.
Alcoa freshman Tara Shields made her only points of the game count when she nailed a 3-pointer to cut it to 51-48 with 1:35 left to play. Cleveland (3-2) then put the clamps down on the Alcoa offense and pulled out the win without making a field goal in the final stanza.
“I think they were pretty intense in the fourth quarter and did a much better job of keeping the intensity,” Alcoa coach Tonia Johnson said. “We dug a pretty good hole because of our poor offensive decisions and that compounded with our poor offensive execution. It led to a lofty comeback.”
With only four upperclassmen on the team, Alcoa (3-3) struggled on offense through the first three quarters. The Lady Tornadoes finished with 48 points after averaging 61.6 points through the first five games.
“We are just going to have to find a flow at this point,” Johnson said. “It’s early in the season, and tonight it took us until the fourth quarter to figure out something.”
Kayla Newman finished as the leading scorer for Alcoa with 16 points even with being in foul trouble early. Eight of her points came in the fourth quarter in Alcoa’s first home game since Nov. 19.
“When she can get on the court and find gaps to the goal, she is very effective,” Johnson said. “She is a very effective player. She makes the defense have to help. When that happens she finds open shooters.”
Hannah Troutt and Carson-Newman signee Katie Stubblefield each finished with 11 points for Alcoa.
Shawnia Anderson recorded a game-high 20 points, 10 of them in the third quarter, for Cleveland. Lincoln Memorial University signee Sydnie Anderson finished with 12 for the Blue Raiders.
Alcoa played solid defense for three quarters, but the third quarter proved to be the difference in the game. Cleveland sprang for 23 points in the third period to take the 50-34 heading into the final period. Johnson felt that her team’s offense was off early on.
“Shot selection was horrendous,” Johnson said.
Stubblefield hit her lone 3-pointer late in the first half to pull Alcoa within 26-22, but the Lady Tornadoes never led in the final three quarters. The only lead was an early 4-2 lead in the first quarter.
Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad finished with 12 points for Cleveland.
Alcoa hosts Bearden next Monday with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m.