The battle for the championship hardware in the 2007 Van Buren Lady Dawg Classic couldn't have got off to a much slower start if the two teams in the title game had been playing in knee-deep quicksand.
Luckily for the Couch Lady Indians, they had four-wheel drive in the person of Tara Combs.
Combs pumped in 14 of her game-high 22 points in the second half to help the Lady Indians out-slug the Ellington Lady Whippets 46-30 Dec. 1, as Couch took top honors in the annual tournament.
After trailing for all but just a brief moment early in the first period, the top-seeded Lady Indians finally managed to climb out of the bog at the half and Couch led the entire second half of play, using a patient offensive attack to frustrate sixth-seeded Ellington.
Neither side could get on track in a slow-paced first half, with a 3-pointer from Ellington's Morgan Morrison late in the first period giving the Lady Whippets a 5-4 lead after one.
Jessica Jones (12 points) dropped in Couch's first two hoops of the second, but it was still a challenge for either team to find the bucket in the stanza.
Ellington ripped off five straight points to move in front 15-8 with a touch over three minutes left until the half.
Then to highlight what would happen in the second half, Combs got on track for Couch.
She knocked down the last six points of the half, the last hoop coming via a steal and layup at the buzzer, to cut into Ellington's lead and send the teams to the break with Couch down one, 15-14.
Combs opened the second with back-to-back hoops that gave Couch the lead,
And after working so hard to get the lead, the Lady Indians had no intentions of letting Ellington back in the game.
Spreading the floor at the top of the circle, Couch worked the ball around the perimeter in an effort to run some time off the clock and find some easy layups.
This plan worked like a charm, as the Lady Indians got penetration in the lane and cashed in with some point-blank hoops.
Couch's defense pulled its own weight in the third, also, as the Lady Whippets scored just five points in the frame.
Jones capped the third with a pair of baseline layups that helped Couch to a 29-20 lead after three.
The fourth was almost a carbon copy of the third.
Combs popped the first six points for Couch, extending her team's lead to 15, 35-20.
Unable to get their hands on the ball, the Lady Whippets were forced to chase the Lady Indians around the perimeter while precious time ticked off the clock.
A layup by Whitney Mills (seven points) pushed Couch in front 40-22 with 2:40 left, and though Rachel Roberts hit a pair of treys for Ellington in the last 50 seconds of play, the Lady Indians still won by 16 points, 46-30, to claim the Lady Dawg Classic championship.
Jordan Hale and Crystal Britt had two points each for Couch, while Lorra Wicker added one.