Slow start thorn in Cave City's side
A big first-half deficit turned out to be a major roadblock in the Cave City Cavewomen's plans on advancing to the championship game of the 3-4A District Tournament.
The second-seeded Cavewomen could muster just 16 points in the first two periods and third-seeded Brookland took advantage of that, en route to a 61-45 win for the Lady Bearcats in the semifinal round of action Feb. 17 in Gosnell.
Despite the game's outcome, Cave City still earned a spot in the regional tournament by finishing second in the conference's regular-season race.
Cave City did bounce back from its disappointing first half with some inspired defense and long-range bombing in the last two periods of play. The Cavewomen drilled seven 3-pointers in the second half, but it just wasn't enough to help them climb out of the big hole they were in.
The Lady Bearcats used a succession of layups and short jumpers to build a 9-0 lead midway into the first period.
Aly Landers broke the ice for the Cavewomen with the first of her six triples on the night at the four minute mark of the period. She paced Cave City with 18 points.
Savannah Williams (six points) hit a couple of shots in the paint late in the first and Landers slammed the door on the stanza with another long trey, leaving Cave City down by just six, 16-10, after one.
Then came the second period, when the Lady Bearcats began to pull away.
Brookland reeled off the first 10 points of the frame to extend its cushion to 26-10, with 3:20 left until the half.
Macy Jo Moody (12 points) stopped the Lady Bearcats' run with a pair of charity tosses and Landers canned yet another 3-ball, but that would be almost all of Cave City's offensive output in the second.
Brookland outscored Cave City 16-6 in the second period, sending the teams to intermission with the Lady Bearcats on top, 32-16.
The Cavewomen looked a lot more like their normal selves in the third period and they managed to slow down Brookland's uncontested layups a bit.
Moody and Jessica Walling (six points) each hit a 3-pointer in the first minute-and-a-half of the stanza, as Cave City tried to play catch-up.
Landers continued her hot-shooting from the first half and drained a trio of treys in the third, the last one splashing through the net at the 2:20 mark, pulling the Cavewomen within five, 40-35.
Hailey Stigall also got in on the long-range blasting in the third, but Brookland managed to survive Cave City's six 3-pointers in the period to take a 47-38 lead to the start of the fourth period.
Cave City just couldn't trim any more points off Brookland's lead in the last eight minutes of play.
Walling hit the opening hoop of the fourth, but then the Lady Bearcats went on an 11-2 run to maintain control.
Moody dropped in Cave City's last shot from beyond the arc with 1:20 left to play, but Brookland hit eight free throws in the last four minutes of the contest, and advanced to the title game with a 61-45 victory over the Cavewomen.
Freshman Kalifa Ford paced Brookland with a game-high 23 points. Ally Loflin added 16 for the Lady Bearcats.