Despite 39 turnovers, the Trojanettes had enough firepower to get by the Lady Wildcats 64-55 to improve to 2-1 on the year.
University of Southern Mississippi signee LaShyra Cotton turned in another stellar performance for the Trojanettes with a double-double scoring 28 points and snagging 13 rebounds. Cotton also had seven steals in the win.
Through three games, the Dandy Dozen selection is averaging 28 points along with 11 rebounds per game.
"LaShyra is the glue that keeps this team together. When she is off the floor she brings energy and she makes everybody around her better. She had a good night for us," said East Side head coach Jaboria Walker.
Cleveland High head coach Jenny McCullough had similar sentiments about Cotton.
When asked about her assessments of the contest, McCullough said, "I have two words for you, LaShyra Cotton, and you can put that in big bold letters. She was the difference maker tonight. She has worked herself into a great ball player and beyond that I think she is an even better leader than ball player, but she is an excellent ball player so that tells you what kind of leader she is.”
The Lady Wildcats had turn over problems of their own, but it was a slow start by Cleveland that led to the team's now 3-2 mark. Cleveland trailed by over 20 points during one stretch in the game.
McCullough added, "We need someone to step up on this team and be a leader. Right now, everyone is standing around waiting on someone else to make plays. We are not coming out with the right energy, and we're coming out and starting games very flat. It's five games in and we're still starting games sluggish.”
The Trojanettes led the Lady Wildcats 34-17 at halftime and 49-28 after the third quarter. In the third quarter with about five minutes remaining, Cotton picked up her fourth foul and had to sit.
In the fourth quarter with Cotton out of the game, the Lady Wildcats’ full court pressure intensified and they managed to force turnovers and score easy baskets to creep back into the ball game.
"Our guards are young as far as their experience on the court. We have not been taking care of the basketball and tonight was a prime example of that," said Walker.
With 5:33 left in the game, Cleveland trailed East Side 49-36 and play-by-play the Lady Wildcats began to creep back into the ball game. With 1:50 left in the game a three-point basket from Chelsea Heffner closed the East Side lead to 58-47.
After a made free throw from Cotton, East Side got a steal and freshman Jonqueala Harris scored a layup to give East Side a 61-47 lead. With under a minute left to play, Brittney Thigpen made a free throw for a 61-48 game. Thigpen missed the second free throw attempt, but Heffner was there for the rebound and the put back for a three point play for a 61-51 game. Following a steal by CHS, Tonidra Blair scored a bucket for the Lady Wildcats for a 61-53 game with :24 on the clock. Heffner scored another basket for the Lady Wildcats after another East Side turnover to close the East Side lead to 61-55 with :12 left in the game.
That would be as close as CHS would get as Cotton made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch and came up with two steals to secure the East Side victory.
"I felt like we did a good job of working hard to come back. The problem we had is the way we tried to finish is the way we need to come out from the opening tip," said McCullough.
Carvacier Sanders turned in a strong performance for East Side with 18 points and Errica Blair scored seven points. The Trojanettes also had 22 steals for the game.
Blair led Cleveland High with a double-double scoring 19 points with 11 rebounds and three steals. Heffner scored 13 points, and Thigpen scored 11 points.
East Side will be back in action tonight against West Bolivar beginning at 6 p.m. with the girls game. Cleveland High will be back in action Monday against Greenville St. Joe for the Cleveland High Tournament.