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Cameron Girls Net 12th Straight Win

Photo by Cody Tomer Cameron’s Kenzie Clutter, left, goes up for a layup against Madonna’s Jazzy Melnyk during Thursday’s game.

CAMERON — The Cameron girls’ basketball team had won 11 straight games entering Thursday and coach Holly Pettit knew in order to make it 12, the Dragons would have to play mentally tough.

They did just that as the 13-1 Dragons rallied from a 9-0 deficit to pocket a 57-44 triumph over visiting Madonna.

The last time the two teams met this season, Cameron won a nail-biter 51-47 in overtime.

“It was a physical game and I told my girls at halftime that we were going to win the game with mental toughness,” Pettit said. “In the second half they stepped up and were so mentally tough in a very physical game.”

The Dons came out hitting shots early with Venessa Alatis hitting a bucket and a 3 to put her squad up 9-0.

However, the Dragons roared back with a 12-2 run to end the first quarter — grabbing a 12-9 cushion in the process.

“Offensively we were flowing well in the beginning but then our shots didn’t drop,” Madonna coach Cory Wingett said. “So, as hard as we tried to play defense and as hard as we tried to shut them down and control their game, if we can’t get shots to fall that’s just the name of the game. It’s nobody’s fault, nobody can control that, it’s just part of the game.”

Ashlynn VanTassell was another crucial reason for the Cameron comeback.

The freshman center bucketed 14 points in the first half and helped Cameron take a 26-15 advantage into the locker room. She finished with 20 points.

“She killed us early,” Wingett said of VanTassell. “We tried to hold her away from the rim because if you let her get close to the rim it’s over. She can score from anywhere around the rim.”

In the third, it was senior Lili Neely who took charge as she poured in eight in the frame to put the Dragons on top 41-28 after three, a deficit the Dons could not overcome.

Shae McCoy followed Alatis’ performance with 10 points for Madonna.

“One of my great assistant coaches pointed out that at halftime we had 15 points and we finished with 44,” Wingett said. ”

So, if we can avoid that shooting drought we had in the second part of the first, it’s a whole different game but that’s just basketball.”

Neely finished with 15 points and Reagan Gray provided stellar defense and seven points, while Emma Whipkey provided five points and a crucial game-changing rebound.

“Emma Whipkey came up with a huge offensive rebound (Thursday),” Pettit said. “It was kind of the turning point of the game and then we kicked it out and got a 3.

“There’s been a few games where we’ve been down eight or nine at half. We didn’t shoot well from outside (Thursday) but I think our guards stepped up defensively and they started switching and not letting the pick and roll happen as much. We had a couple of runs where we got a steal or a rebound and got a nice offensive set where we were able to put the ball in the basket.”

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