News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

February 7, 2013

Cottom leads Sullivan girls to sectional victory

SULLIVAN — Asked to start for the first time in her girls high school basketball career Wednesday evening, Emily Cottom answered the bell by scoring a team-high 16 points to help Class 2A No. 3-ranked Sullivan overpower Eastern Greene 55-32 in the first round of the Sullivan Sectional.

Indiana State-bound Rhagen Smith chipped in with 15 points (with very few second-half minutes) and Cobie Harrison added 14 as the Golden Arrows improved their record to 20-2 — despite the absence of usual starter Sydney Chapman, who rolled her ankle in practice Monday.

“Emily played outstanding tonight,” Sullivan coach Julie Meeks said of Cottom, a junior guard and summer move-in from Terre Haute. “This was a great opportunity for her to get the start. Emily’s capable of scoring. She shoots the ball well. … It was a good experience for her because we need her. I’m proud of her.”

In Wednesday’s second game, South Knox defeated Linton 46-25 to set up a semifinal meeting with Sullivan at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

In the opener Wednesday, the Arrows jumped ahead 24-4 behind eight points apiece from Cottom and Harrison in the first quarter and there was no looking back.

Meeks credited her team’s tenacious man-to-man defense for its fast start.

“We did go to zone later, just trying to save some legs a little bit,” she added. “Defense has been our strength this year. We’re going to keep at it. We tell our players that sets the tone.”

The Arrows tallied the first nine points of the second period — seven by the 6-foot-2 Smith — to boost their advantage to 33-4.

There’s no point in mentioning any more play-by-play details because they had little impact on the outcome. To Eastern Greene’s credit, the Thunderbirds outscored Sulivan 14-12 in the third frame and 11-8 in the final frame to make the final score somewhat respectable.

An odd statistic from this matchup was that the Arrows missed all 11 of their attempts from 3-point range.

“I tell our players, ‘Keep looking for your shot. Keep taking it,’ ” Meeks said. “We have some very good 3-point shooters. … It just didn’t happen for us tonight. I want them to continue looking for the outside shot.”

Looking to Friday, Meeks thinks Chapman will be able to play, although her return is not etched in stone.

“We probably could have played her tonight, but we chose not to,” the Arrows’ coach said. “It’s not serious, but we just decided to rest it a little bit and play it safe. … We’ll see how she is Friday. We don’t want to overdo it.”

Few details of the South Knox victory over Linton were available before the Tribune-Star’s news deadline Wednesday night. What was known, however, is that South Knox lost at Sullivan 66-34 in a regular-season contest Jan. 3.

“We can’t overlook any team,” Meeks warned. “We’ve just got to come in here prepared to win.”

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