UNAKA — Cosby’s Shylee Shelton skidded to a stop in the corner near the Lady Eagles’ bench at Unaka on Friday night.
Shelton accepted a pass, bent her right elbow and nailed the same 3-pointer she had nailed on two of the last three possessions.
Cosby led 44-29 at that point off a 20-3 run, and a layup put the Lady Eagles up 46-29 to end the third quarter.
Cosby rolled off Shelton’s 34 points and a relentless defense, cruising to a 67-41 win to mark its first victory of the 2022-23 season.
“I think I shot the ball well and played good defense, but as a team we played well too,” said Shelton.
Strong third quarter, intangibles aid Lady Eagles
Coming out of halftime on Friday, Unaka jumped out to a 20-16 lead.
It didn’t last long.
A Shelton triple drew the score to 20-19, then she drove the lane and drew a foul to put Cosby up 21-20.
The teams continued battling to a 26-26 tie, but the Lady Eagles broke loose from the stalemate with a vengeance.
They mounted a 9-3 run before a Cosby stop sent the Lady Eagles roaring into a timeout.
Then Shelton caught fire to give Cosby more of a cushion.
In total, Cosby outscored Unaka 30-13 through the third period of action and 51-26 in the second half overall.
Kinlee Coggins, Shelton, Ali Smith and other Lady Eagles added big shots through the fourth quarter, with a 3-pointer from Coggins giving Cosby a 20-point lead with 3:17 to play.
The lead ballooned to 28, Cosby’s biggest of the night, with 11 seconds to go before free throws sliced the final margin to 26.
Coggins and Smith totaled 13 and 10 points, respectively, to round out the Lady Eagles’ double-digit scoring.
Smith shut down Lyndie Ramsey, a Miss Basketball finalist, in the second half, while Katie Myers captured Lowe’s attention with her incessant effort.
“Ali had really good defense on No. 10, and she really shut her down,” said Shelton.
Lowe loaded compliments onto Myers as well, as she helped in the defensive effort.
“Katie, she didn’t score a point, but she was really big on the defensive end,” said Lowe. “Just the intangibles. Diving on the floor for loose balls, taking charges, little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Things that are big for winning programs, and Katie helped us do that.”
Shelton, Coggins emerge from slow start
A slow start plagued both teams, as neither the Lady Eagles nor the Lady Rangers made a shot through the first four-and-a-half minutes of action.
Soon enough, though, Unaka got on the board via a 3-pointer from Ramsey.
Ramsey drove the lane and drew a foul on the next possession for a 6-0 advantage, but Coggins cut into the lead with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Following another Unaka basket, Shelton came alive with a trey in front of the Lady Rangers’ bench.
Shelton went on to score four of the Lady Eagles’ next seven points, with the other triple coming on an open shot by Smith from beyond the arc for a 10-9 lead.
Ramsey tied the score at 13 following a Shelton layup, but Coggins came through again when she kissed a 3-pointer off the glass for a 16-13 lead.
Ramsey cut Cosby’s lead to one with a buzzer-beating three, making the score 16-15 at the break.
Altogether, Shelton and Coggins accounted for 13 of those for the Lady Eagles, who shot 4-of-16 from deep through the first half with a 19.2% clip inside the arc.
Following the win, Cosby will hit a break before resuming action at Pigeon Forge on November 29. Tip-off for the girls will be at 6:30, while the boys will begin at 8:00 p.m.
Going forward, the Lady Eagles will look to replicate the effort Lowe saw in the final 16 minutes — one that was vastly different from what he saw in the opener against Seymour.
“I thought we played really hard,” said Lowe. “That team in the second half is the team I know. I’m just really proud of the effort.
“If we play like we did in the second half, we’ll win some games this year.”