(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
Little by little, though, the Lady Champs were able to chip away at the Cannon County lead and chase the visitors down to the wire.
Despite a valiant comeback attempt, the Lady Champs took a tough, 58-52 loss on Monday night.
"The girls just never stopped playing hard. I think we were a little bit timid. We knew they could shoot the three well, but we have to do a better job of on the ball defense. They've got some great shooters," said Cascade coach Chad Spencer.
And those shooters lit up the scoreboard in the first quarter.
As part of a 21-2 run, the Lady Lions saw huge shots fall from Abby Jakes and Abbey Sissom. The pair combined for five treys in the first quarter alone to propel Cannon County out in front.
Even with the outside game working against them, the Lady Champs were able to settle down and close the quarter on a 7-2 run. However, they still faced a tough task in slowing down the potent offense.
Cannon County saw more big shots fall in the second frame, but it was Cascade who finally got its offense rolling thanks to the likes of senior Haley Edmondson.
She banked 10 points in the second quarter alone, including a pair of huge triples.
While the offense was the story of the game in the first half, it was the Lady Champions' defense that allowed a furious second-half rally.
In fact, the Lady Champion defense was so on edge, it limited the Cannon County offense that amassed 42 points in the first half to just 16 total points in the second half.
"We just played man and do everything we normally do. I challenged the girls who were guarding the shooters to get out there and make them put the ball on the floor," Spencer said.
That challenge appeared to have worked because Jakes and Sissom were held to a combined seven points, until the final minute or so. In that final minute, Cascade was forced to foul to stop the clock and Sissom was able to cash in on 3-of-4 tries from the line.
"We had great help-side defense and we blocked out and limited them to one shot. We were getting rebounds and pushing the ball, getting some baskets in transitions," Spencer said.
A sizable number of Cascade's 17 points in the fourth quarter came from points in transition.
Per usual, Edmondson stepped up when the game was on the line and ignited a 14-0 run with a key trey from the wing early in the quarter.
The Lady Champs continued to work the offense and eventually trimmed the deficit to four points with just over two minutes to go.
With no choice but to foul, Cannon County went to work on the line and connected on 5-of-8 attempts down the stretch to secure the victory.
In all, Sissom led all scorers with 22 points, but got key assistance from Jakes, who banked 18. Teammate Madison Walkup reached double digits as well, with 10.
Cascade also saw three players reach double figures, with Edmondson's 15 leading the way. Skuce chimed in with 13 as well, while senior Kelsey Parker added 10.
While the game goes down as a loss, Spencer feels the game was a moral victory for the Lady Champs standing toe-to-toe with the No. 1 2A team in the state, and overcoming such an early deficit.
"Usually I'm not satisfied with a loss, but I was so proud of how my girls fought in the second half. I feel like we got a moral victory tonight," he said.
Cascade dives back into District 9-A play this evening with a road trip to Huntland to face the Lady Hornets, with the opening tip-off set for 6 p.m.
Cannon Co. 23 19 7 9 -- 58
Cascade 9 17 9 17 -- 52
Cannon Co.: Abbey Sissom 22, Abby Jakes 17, Madison Walkup 10, Jordan Hollis 4, Ashley Basham 2, Avanna Kalipom 2, Emily Pemberton 1.
Cascade: Haley Edmondson 15, Elora Skuce 13, Kelsey Parker 10, Jessica Ervin 4, Maya Gaston 4, Karly Grissom 3, Andrea Pigg 2, Haylee Simpson 1.
3-Point goals: Cannon Co. (8): Jakes 5, Sissom 3; Cascade (5): Edmondson 3, Grissom, Parker.
Halftime score: Cannon Co. 42, Cascade 26.