The Lady Bulldogs were not the only Region 6-AAA team to be knocked off in the match-up as seven of the eight teams that played from this region got beat.
“I think the loss was a combination of things,” said Cedartown coach Beth Ralph. “It was a long drive over here and that had to have an effect. But playing this far from home and getting used to the officiating took us too long.”
The Lady Dogs finish their season at 21-8, but a first round state tournament loss was not what the Lady Dogs was looking for.
Jackson County started the game off well taking an early lead on the Lady Dogs. Cedartown’s early offense came from Tamara Martin and Brandy Hutchins who combined for 10 of the Bulldogs 12 first quarter points. Jackson County did a better job spreading out the scoring in the first quarter as they had five different players add to their 15 points.
The main reason for Jackson County being ahead was that they Lady Dogs committed four turnovers on five trips down the floor late in the quarter.
“We made a few too many bad decisions all day today,” said Ralph.
In the second quarter Cedartown seemed to snap out of their funk offensively and defensively the Bulldogs started to put a lot more pressure on the Jackson County offense. Cedartown was again getting most of their scoring from Martin and Hutchins as they two combined for 12 of the Bulldogs 18 points in the second quarter. The Lady Dogs also held Jackson County to just 11 points in the quarter and took a 30-26 lead into the second half.
The Bulldogs had to feel good about the first half of the game because they lost Stephanie McCombs to foul trouble half way through the second quarter and did not miss a beat as Crystal Shooks came in and helped Cedartown with two points and four rebounds in four minutes of play.
The third quarter also went the way of the Lady Bulldogs, as they again looked good on defense. They only caused one turnover, but they also slowed the Jackson County offense down enough that they were having to work too hard to run their base offense.
On the bad side Cedartown was also having to work very hard offensively and other than Martin and Hutchins the Lady Bulldogs offense was really struggling.
Cedartown led 44-38 going into the fourth quarter.
But in the final quarter Cedartown took a beating physically and on the free throw line as Jackson County hit 14 of 18. Cedartown only scored 12 total points in the final quarter.
Also hurting Cedartown was when Brandy Hutchins was called for her fifth foul with about four minutes left in the quarter.
Ashley Rainwater from Jackson County put the game away with 16 second left when she hit two free throws to put Jackson County up six points.
“It is disappointing to lose like this,” said Ralph. “Jackson County played better today, but I still think that we are the better team. We just really didn’t play the kind of game that I had hoped we would play.”
A major factor in the game was the officiating. Cedartown playing in Region 6-AAA is used to games being called closely, and this game was very physical and called very loosely.
“Not getting the over the back calls killed us,” said Ralph. “Now we need to box out better to get those calls, but still this game was very rough.”
Another thing that hurt Cedartown was their lack of depth. The Lady Dogs only played seven players where Jackson played 10.
“We have very little depth at the guard position,” said Ralph. “I don’t think their depth was better than ours, but they had some folks to step in and play a few minutes and not hurt them.”
With the loss the Lady Dogs exit the state tournament after a first round loss for the second straight year.
Leading the way in scoring for the Lady Dogs was Martin who had 21 points. Also hitting double figures in scoring was Hutchins who had 15 points. Darby Harrison added eight points and McCombs finished her career as a Bulldog with seven points.
Leading the way for Jackson County was Tosha Ransom who had 20 points. April Cantrell threw in 13 points and Nikki Soesbee also had 10 points for Jackson County.