COSBY, Tenn. — The last time Oneida and Cosby faced off on this court, it was in a Class A sectional game with a trip to the state tournament in Murfreesboro on the line. The next time they square off on this court, it may very well be with the same stakes riding on the outcome.
But on Friday, the Lady Eagles and the Lady Indians squared off in an early-season matchup that was for bragging rights as much as anything else, and on this night, the bragging rights went to the Lady Indians. Oneida built as much as a 7-point lead in the fourth quarter, then withstood a furious effort by Cosby for a 65-62 win.
With Caroline Keeton out with an MRI sprain and Kelsey Pike still limited by the flu — though she did score 18 points — Oneida sophomore Braelyn Russ stepped up. She had 16 first half points to set the tone, then hit four free throws in the fourth quarter in a pressure situation.
Annaleah Terry had a season-high nine points, while Raylie Bush also had nine.
It was a tight game throughout, but Oneida led by five points at halftime, 36-31. The first half was all about Russ, Pike and Terry on the offensive end. The trio teamed up for 32 of the Lady Indians’ 36 points — and Russ scored half of those.
“She does that,” Oneida coach Marv West said of Russ’s big start. “There are times when she is just on. She did that against Campbell County, too. She’s a gamer. She loves the spotlight, she likes being out there in front of everybody.”
The second half saw Bush step up, while senior Faith Cross also came through with two big buckets and a pair of free throws, scoring all six of her points in the final two periods. Pike had nine second half points before exiting the game midway through the fourth quarter with a cramp.
Cosby’s Shylee Shelton scored 31 points, and was the focal point of the Eagles’ comeback efforts in the fourth quarter. Freshman Alexis McGaha added 18.
With Oneida just trying to survive after Pike exited the game, Cosby was able to cut the lead to 64-62, then got the ball back with 19 seconds left. McGaha had a look at the three from the corner, which would’ve given her team the lead, but it was off the rim. Later, Shelton had a look at the three as time expired, but it too was just off the mark.
West wasn’t particularly pleased with Shelton’s ability to get to the rim in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes we made it a tough shot for her, but a lot of times we were just not playing defense like we’re supposed to be,” he said. “It’s the same thing you saw against Clarkrange, the same thing you saw against Powell, the same thing you saw against Harriman. We’ve got to do a better job of stopping the drive, and stopping it early. We overplay a lot for steals and deflections and then get out of position.”
ONEIDA (65): Russ 20, Pike 18, Terry 9, Bush 9, Cross 6, Elmore 2, Smith 1.
COSBY (62): Shelton 31, McGaha 18, Johnson 8, Smith 4, Ottinger 1.