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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wakeup Call

By Glenn Nelson
HoopGurlz

Chandler Cooper
Chandler Cooper helped provide a wakeup call for tournament-favorite Tennessee Flight, delivering a pairs of three and a layup during a late, deciding run in its 81-71 win over the Philly Belles.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- When enough gets to be enough, all it takes is a glance. Chandler Cooper and Rebecca Greenwell have been club teammates long enough to know. And with their Tennessee Flight reeling late in their Thursday morning game at Nike Nationals, their signal unleashed the gates of fury on the Philly Belles.

It started with a Greenwell three with about four minutes left, then two straight by Cooper, a Cooper layup and an and-one power up from Bashaara Graves. Fourteen points in a blink of an eye. After trailing for much of the game, the Flight, the overwhelming favorites to win a second straight Nike title, averted an upset, hanging in for an 81-71 victory.

Karlee Samuelson
Cal Swish Black's Karlee Samuelson attempts a shot before hitting the floor during a game the Fairfax Stars at Nike Nationals in North Augusta, N.C.

"We feed off each other," said Cooper, the No. 30 prospect in the 2012 class. "We read each other. At that time, we kind of felt it and gave each other a look."

The morning session of the premier tournament of the summer evaluation period often serves as a reminder of what exactly is at stake and what teams and players are willing to do to claim them.

While the opening game was a wakeup call for the Flight, it was a siren call for the Cy-Fair Nike Elite.

Cy-Fair arguably was one of the outside favorites in the tournament, if for nothing else but pinning the Flight with its only loss. But that status may no longer hold after it dropped a 63-60 decision to the Illinois Hustle that only was that close because Peyton Little hit a three before the buzzer. Otherwise, it was all Katie Meador and her Hustle, who hit shots from all over the floor, six from beyond the arc.

In another close call, the Cal Storm Taurasi beat Michigan Crossovers 61-58 with several late plays and behind Kendall Cooper's 14 points.

The Hustle didn't need to be reminded what was in store.

"We heard about them," said Meador, who scored 10 points. "But that was just fire in our bellies."

While the Hustle arrived with that fire, the Flight ignited its conflagration late.

The No. 9 prospect in the 2012 class, according to ESPN HoopGurlz, Graves led Tennessee with 19 points. Greenwell, the No. 10 prospect in 2013, pitched in 18.

"We've got to come in focused every game," said Cooper, a coach's daughter. "We are going to get everybody's best game."

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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at glenn@hoopgurlz.com.