Megan Chapman deserved a better going away party.
Campbell County High School’s lone senior basketball player fought and scratched for half a dozen points Friday night against a towering Bearden front line.
The effort was there, but the outcome was not what the Lady Cougars had hoped for.
Chapman’s team suffered a 60-46 elimination loss in a first-round Region 2-AAA Tournament game at Knoxville. Even in defeat, Campbell County coach Ryan Browning had high praise for his senior captain, who struggled to hold back tears as she walked off the court for the final time.
“She’s a perfect example that you don’t have to be the biggest, strongest or best scorer to have an impact,” said Browning.
“She works hard and gives it all she’s got. She’s been a good leader by example.”
That example helped a very young and inexperienced team win half its games (14-14 overall) coming into Friday’s regional opener.
Against District 4-AAA champion Bearden (22-6 overall), however, the Lady Cougars had their hands full, especially down low, where Chapman and mates gave up a good four to six inches to Bearden’s twin towers: 6-foot-0 Mary Hurst and 6-foot-2 Ellen Smith.
Hurst led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points but wasn’t high scorer for the game. Campbell County’s junior guard Jessica Moore gunned in 29 points and a trio of three-pointers, which was her second best effort this season.
The Lady Cougars fell behind 9-0 in the opening minutes as they desperately tried to find an answer to Hurst, who tallied 12 during the first half alone.
Less than a minute and a half into the second quarter, Campbell County post player Candice Seiber was whistled for her third foul and went to the bench for the remainder of the period with her team down 17-5.
The deficit grew to 19 points, 32-13, by halftime.
Chapman and Moore, who hit a pair of treys in the second quarter, were the only two players able to score for the Lady Cougars during a sluggish first half performance.
“I don’t want to say we were intimidated, but it took us a while to get in sync on offense,” said Browning.
“We’ve faced some big teams before, but nobody the size of those two (Hurst and Smith). We did a poor job in the second quarter of getting back on defense.”
As bad as things got, Campbell County found its way back into the game late in the second half. Freshman point guard Courtney Morris swished in a trey--her only points of the night--to get the Lady Cougars within 10 points, 54-44, with 3:37 left.
But Bearden scored six of the last eight points to put the game out of reach.
Seiber finished with four points while Lindsay Evans and Kristin Chapman had two each.
With the majority of his team returning, Browning is already looking forward to what could be a banner season next year. The Lady Cougars may attend a team camp this summer at Vanderbilt University, where they could fine-tune their game against some of the mid-state’s best teams.
“Hopefully, we’ll get in the gym, work hard and be ready to go,” he said.