With Copperas Cove having erased all but three points of a 14-point Bryan lead, freshman Taler Thornton scored twice in a 22-second span in the final minute to give the Lady Vikings a 55-48 victory over the Lady Dawgs on Friday in District 12-6A girls basketball action at Viking Gym.
Bryan head coach Chris Jones called a late timeout, and when the Lady Vikings returned to the floor, they spread out and got the ball near the 3-point line to Thornton, who turned on her defender and drove to the basket for only the third fourth-quarter basket for Bryan (6-5, 3-3).
“The sideline play was a good play,” Jones said. “The inbounder made a good read, and it was a good possession for us. Then we were able to get it back on defense, which is what we want to do, be more aggressive defensively and try and get some easy ones. There are multiple options on the play, and that just happened to be the one that came open first.”
On Copperas Cove’s next possession, Bryan junior ZaVianna Williams rebounded a missed shot and got the ball to Thornton, who raced down court in front of the pack to score the final two of her game-high 27 points.
“It was a huge win,” Jones said. “They are all huge for us right now, and in the district obviously it’s huge. The girls really played hard. They scrapped it out, made a few mistakes at the end, but then they battled it out and made some big plays and pulled out the win. Couldn’t be more proud of them, the position we’re in and our record right now and the girls are playing hard.”
Bryan led by 14 twice in the third quarter, the last time at 41-27 on two Thornton free throws, but the Lady Vikings then went more than a quarter without a basket. Williams broke the ice by banking in a runner at the midway point of the fourth quarter to put Bryan up 47-40. It was the first basket since sophomore Ja’jinae Williams hit a follow shot in the lane with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Senior Azaria Knotts led the Lady Dawgs’ comeback with 10 of her 18 points in the final 10 minutes. Her baseline jumper pulled Copperas Cove (6-12, 1-5) within 51-48.
“Every game for us is a learning experience,” Jones said. “We have a young team — 8 out of 10 are new to varsity. We are learning every day in practice, and every game is a learning experience, and we just want to keep on getting better.”
Paced by Thornton’s 14-of-16 effort from the free-throw line, the Lady Vikings made 22 of 28 as a team compared to Copperas Cove’s 13 of 26.
“Sometimes we [make our free throws] and sometimes we don’t, which goes along with being a young team,” Jones said. “We’ve been on the road for quite a spell, so to get back home and play in front of the home crowd was huge. They took care of business at the line, and that was big.”
Copperas Cove led 10-9 after the first quarter, but the Lady Vikings got their press working in the second quarter and put together a 16-5 run to go up 25-16. Alexis Burton’s 3-pointer capped the run.
“We are pressing out of necessity right now, trying to get some easy baskets and not get caught in a half-court game where other teams’ experience can hurt us,” Jones said. “We are learning together and luckily getting a few wins along the way.”
Ja’jinae Williams added eight points for the Lady Vikings. Burton, a freshman, finished with seven points, and Zavianna Williams had six. Freshman Carmella Jones, who injured her ankle last week, played a couple of minutes in the third quarter after missing all of Bryan’s last game.
Samaria Bostick finished with 10 points for the Lady Dawgs.
Bryan 55, Copperas Cove 48
(Numbers after names indicate field goals made, free throws made-attempted, fouls, points.)
COPPERAS COVE (6-12, 1-5) — Alaura Gallups 0 0-0 0 0; Khia Horton 0 1-2 3 1; Micah Anderson 1 0-2 2 2; A’Zariah Knotts 6 5-7 4 18; Jasmin Sankey 3 1-3 0 7; Shayla Marrie 0 3-6 4 3; Samaria Bostick 5 0-0 3 10; Kyra Gaston 2 3-6 2 7; Jade Chapman 0 0-0 0 0. TOTALS: 17 13-26 19 48.
BRYAN (6-5, 3-3) — Ja’jinae Williams 2 4-4 5 8; Bre Mack 1 0-0 0 2; Alexis Burton 2 1-1 1 7; Dajasia Johnson 0 0-0 1 0; ZaVianna Williams 3 0-0 2 6; Symoria Adkins 1 3-4 3 5; Destinee Nunn 0 0-2 4 0; Tierra Murray 0 0-0 2 0; Taler Thornton 6 14-16 2 27; Carmella Jones 0 0-0 0 0. TOTALS: 15 22-28 20 55.