By Michael Lindsay
The Cumberland County Lady cruised to a victory in their season opener Tuesday as they defeated Pickett County in Crossville, 72-50.
“We did a lot of really good things, but there’s a lot we have to do better,” said Lady Jet head coach Kim Cram-Torres. “I don’t think we guarded well at all, and that’s something we typically do better.”
“We came into this knowing they were going to be tough and physical; that’s just Pickett County basketball,” said Lady Jet senior Abby Houston. “Coach Cram really had us prepared.”
Houston led the way for Cumberland County, scoring 24 points in the victory. All 24 came via the three-ball as she hit eight three-pointers.
“I kind of lost count; I was really into it,” Houston said. “My teammates kept giving me good passes.”
CCHS point guard Emery Baragona recorded 17 points in the victory along with junior forward Jalynn Baldwin posting 10.
For Pickett County, sophomore Callie Reeder had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Freshman Zoey Nicholas scored 14 points in her Bobcat debut while sophomore Kaylee Thompkins scored 10.
The offenses for both teams were dialed in early as Cumberland County led 18-16 after one quarter.
The scoring surge continued into the second period as the Lady Jets held a 31-27 lead late in the quarter. With the final seconds until halftime ticking off, Houston nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer from near half-court to give her team a 34-27 halftime lead.
“I thought Jorja (Anderson) was about to shoot it, but I guess she knew I had hit a few,” Houston said. “My good teammates and I always look for the hot hand. I was about 4 steps behind the volleyball line and Jorja hit me with the ball.”
Cumberland County ramped up the defensive pressure coming out of halftime, scoring six points on three consecutive steals early in the third period to push their lead to double digits, 40-29.
“Everybody kind of settled down,” Cram-Torres said. “I didn’t like our placement in the press, so we adjusted some things there at halftime.”
The Lady Jets outscored Pickett County 22-12 in the third quarter to lead 56-39 going into the final frame, where they closed out to win 70-52.
Pickett County falls to 0-1 overall and travels to Van Buren County on Saturday.
Cumberland County improves to 1-0 and hosts Class 4A state tournament qualifier Cookeville on Friday.
“This was a good start for us and definitely a big boost,” Houston said. “Cookeville is a big step up and a different caliber of team. They’re one of the best teams in the state. We’ve got to keep working and get ready for that.”
Cumberland County (72): Abby Houston 24, Emery Baragona 17, Jalynn Baldwin 10, Jorja Anderson 8, Grace Baldwin 6, Aliyah Hawkins 5, Daminica Beal 2
Pickett County (50): Callie Reeder 15, Zoey Nicholas 14, Kaylee Topkins 10, Ella Kate Kelsling 8, Allie Amonett 2, Cambree Conner 1