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It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win over a district opponent.
The Lady Panthers (3-2) defeated the Lady Wildcats (2-1) 43-35 at home Tuesday night. Junior Hannah Devine, who led all scorers, was responsible for almost all of Carroll’s points, scoring 33.
Carroll County got off to a slow start and found themselves down 0-7 with 6:25 to go in the first quarter. Following a timeout, senior Kyndal Curry was fouled on a drive to the basket and hit the first free throw, giving Carroll their first points. After a basket by Henry County, Devine nailed back-to-back jumpers at the top of the key to pull the Lady Panthers within three. Curry hit a jumper and Devine dropped in seven more points to even the score 15-15 at the end of the quarter.
Henry County’s ability to cut and move without the ball wore down Carroll’s defense early, but they were able to pick up the intensity. Henry scored 15 points in the first quarter, but were held to 4, 6 and 10 points, respectively, in the next three.
The two teams exchanged baskets early in the second quarter before Carroll pulled away slightly going into halftime, 24-19.
“We were a little flat in the first quarter,” head coach Randy Mefford said. “I think they surprised us by hitting some shots early, but then we settled down some and got going a little bit the second quarter. We just held on.”
Neither team shot well in the second half, and the Lady Panthers retained their five-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Following a technical foul assessed to Henry County’s head coach Todd Gilley, Devine hit both free throws to widen the lead. A little later, Curry intercepted a Henry County pass and found Devine for a layup. Devine was fouled and hit from the charity stripe to give the Lady Panthers their first double-digit lead of the game. The two teams traded baskets, but Carroll was able to maintain their lead to the final buzzer.
Before the Henry County game, Devine was named the NCKC Player of the Week, averaging 30.5 points per game through four games. She is shooting over 50 percent from the 3-point line and over 50 percent from inside the arc.
Mefford acknowledged that while Devine has put up big numbers thus far, she has drawn a lot of defensive attention this year, and he wants to get the rest of his team involved in the scoring. Jill Butcher scored five points against Henry, while Curry put up three points and Andrea Hardesty scored two.
“It’s a big concern,” he said. “We talked about that, that we’ve got to get more balance from the other girls, and they’ve got to look to shoot it, and that’s what I’m hoping that they’ll do, not be afraid to shoot the basketball.”
Mefford said some of the players may miss a shot or two and then want to quit shooting. “That’s not the way we play. We want them to keep shooting; I don’t want them to pass up open shots.”