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The Lady Panthers’ defense kept the game close, but missed shots in the waning minutes led to a disappointing five-point loss to rival Owen County, 45-40, Friday.
Carroll County forced 16 turnovers, 12 in the first half, and held Owen’s leading scorer, Rianna Gayheart, to just seven points—four free throws and one 3-pointer. Lady Panther head coach Randy Mefford said their game plan for the night was to use a scramble defense to force steals. Unfortunately, many of the turnovers came around the basket rather than in the backcourt, making it more difficult to generate fast break points.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout, and the game was knotted at 35 heading into the fourth quarter. While he applauded his team’s effort against the 8th Region’s second-ranked team (15-4), Mefford said he and his players were disappointed with their inability to hit shots down the stretch.
The Lady Panthers held a three-point advantage, 38-35, off of two free throws by Kyndal Curry with 6:23 to go in the contest. However, they would not score again until a free throw by Hannah Devine with 1:11 remaining. The home team did not score a basket in the fourth quarter, scoring all five points off of free throws.
“It just boiled down to not making shots,” Mefford said. “We’re up three, and I know we had some good looks at the basket. But I just need one or two kids to step up and be a varsity player.”
Carroll shot just 22 percent on 11 of 49 shooting from the field. Devine led all scorers with 16 points, while Curry added a dozen points for the Lady Panthers. Also scoring was Jill Butcher, six points; Tasha Hunter, four points; and Nikki Hill, two points.
“It was a good ballgame to watch, I guess, but it didn’t come out in our favor, maybe the next one will,” Mefford said. “I told the girls in the locker room, I hope we meet them again in the district championship. We’ve got to beat Gallatin to do that.”