Prep girls basketball: Lady Tiger cagers rally to defeat Lady Tornadoes, 58-56

For the third time this season a Marietta Lady Tiger home game came down to the very last second, and for the third time the Tigers came away with a dramatic victory.

On Saturday afternoon, it would be Kaitlyn Cozzens playing the role of heroine as the MHS senior sank a pair of free-throws with two tenths of a second remaining on the clock to give the Tigers a come-from-behind, 58-56 East Central Ohio League victory over the Dover Lady Tornadoes.

Earlier in the season Luisa Barton won a game against Zanesville with a pair of free-throws in the final seconds and senior standout Erica Dawson drilled a three-pointer as time expired to down New Philadelphia.

Saturday it was Cozzens’ turn.

With just three seconds remaining on the clock and the scored tied at 56-56, Erica Dawson’s three-point attempt rattled in and out of the basket before falling into the hands of Cozzens, who drew a Dover foul just before time expired.

“We did a lot of the right things that we needed to do down the stretch today,” said fourth-year Tiger head coach Scott Cozzens. “It was just good to be able to execute down the stretch and it was probably the biggest win of the year for us.”

Things didn’t start out especially well for the Lady Tigers as Dover got 11 first quarter points from Mariah Monaco to take a 19-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Tiger senior Kristin Hill got the second quarter underway with a field goal followed by a triple to cut the Tornado lead to four, but Dover answered with a 14-2 run to claim their biggest lead of the game at 33-17 with four minutes to play in the half.

The orange and black responded with a half-ending 9-2 run of their own capped by a pair of field goals just before intermission by Taylor Smith to trim the Dover lead to 35-26.

For most of the third quarter Dover managed to keep the Tigers at bay as it sported a 44-33 lead with three minutes to go, but the Lady Tigers put together an 11-0 quarter ending run to draw even at 44-44 heading to the final quarter of play.

Dawson got the run going with a pair of free-throws and a field goal before back-to-back baskets by Lain Weppler and Alexis Walsh on perfectly executed inbound passes from Cozzens cut the Lady Tornado lead to three.

Dawson capped the run with her only trey of the game on a nice assist from Smith.

The Tigers claimed their first lead since the opening minute of the game when Dawson opened the final quarter with a score, but Dover would not go away and when Monaco and Sara Dummermuth both scored inside buckets, Dover trailed 54-53 with two minutes to go.

The Tigers increased their lead back to three on free throws by Weppler and Dawson, but Monaco answered with her fourth three- pointer of the game to tie the game once again at 56-56 with under 30 seconds to play.

Coach Cozzens allowed the clock to tick down to just under four seconds to play before calling a timeout to set up what would prove to be the game winning strategy.

“We were going to get the last shot or go to overtime,” said the Tiger head coach. “We’ve been fortunate that our kids execute real well late in games, Kaitlyn sealed her girl off and got position and they were either going to foul her or she was going to win the game with a layup.”

The inbound pass found Dawson open from behind the arc, but when her shot bounced out of the basket Cozzens was in perfect position to grab the most important rebound of the game.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Kaitlyn Cozzens, who had five rebounds in the game to go along with six points. “I had position and it just happened to fall off the rim at just the right angle.”

Dawson, in her second game back since returning from a broken bone in her wrist suffered just three weeks ago, scored 25 points to lead the Tigers.

“We just wanted to get back on track and play our kind of game again,” said Dawson, who also led the orange and black with eight rebounds and eight assists. “This is a big win for us, hopefully we can still get a shot at winning the league.”

Smith added nine points and Hill seven for the Tigers who halted a four-game losing skid with the win and can still win the ECOL with wins in their remaining three conference contests.

“We had to have this win, they (Dover) are an awful good team,” said Coach Cozzens, whose Lady Tigers have league games remaining with River View, and Zanesville. “We control our own destiny in the league, now.”

Monaco’s 23 points paced Dover, now 9-11 overall and 4-7 in the ECOL, while Dummermuth added 15.

MHS is scheduled to return to action Wednesday night when it travel to River View.