Girls top Gallatin, get to title game

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By Dave Taylor

The News-Democrat
The Carroll County Lady Panthers tasted revenge in the second round of the North American Stainless/Carroll County Tourism Basketball Classic by defeating Gallatin County 46-36 on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The win avenged a 56-51 overtime loss to the Lady Wildcats only three nights before and boosted Carroll County into the championship round of the tournament.

“We had that in the back of our minds,” Head Coach Randy Mefford said of the overtime loss. “I had the girls watch a video of Saturday night’s game Sunday before the tournament started and I think they were hoping they would get another shot at them.”

Carroll came out of the locker room with a good defensive effort holding Gallatin to only two points in the first quarter. The Lady Panthers struggled with ball handling in the second eight minutes of play. Gallatin scored several points off the turnovers to slip into a 21-18 lead at halftime.

“I did feel like—and I told the girls this—we did match their intensity on loose balls and rebounding,” Mefford said. “Now we didn’t shoot it all that good in the first half.”

The Lady Panthers sank 15 of 22 free throws for 68 percent shooting from the charity stripe, while Gallatin managed to convert seven of 16, including only two of seven attempts in the final quarter.

After outpointing their visitors 20-7 in the third quarter to take a 38-28 advantage into the final eight minutes of play, the Lady Panthers seemed unable to close the door on their opponents.

“We surely are having a little trouble closing,” Mefford said. “We can’t simulate that kind of game pressure in practice. We had a little of what I call game slippage there. We turned it over some, kept giving them a chance to come back and make a big three and really cut it tight. Luckily, they didn’t make some shots down the stretch or it could have been a little tighter.”

Carroll junior Hannah Devine led all scorers with 30 points. Kyndal Curry added seven points and Tasha Hunter five for the Lady Panthers. Brooke Dossett led Gallatin’s offensive output with nine points. Mikkah Hignite and Alyson Davis each added seven for the Lady Wildcats.

“Brooke Dossett scored 24 the last time we played them and Hignite scored 18,” Mefford said. “We keyed on those two and held them down really well. Kyndal Curry did a great job on Dossett.”

Freshman Kelsey Ogden pulled the defensive assignment on Hignite, while senior Tasha Hunter had a good defensive effort against Davis.

“I started a freshman tonight and if I had a game ball I’d give it out to her because Kelsey Ogden is a kid who had played maybe 10 varsity minutes all season,” Mefford said. “She started and did a great defensive job on Hignite and handled the ball. For a freshman to make her first varsity start in a tournament game in this atmosphere in front of all these people, it was a really good performance. She was in there just for defensive purposes—and she knew it—and she did a great job defensively.”

Mefford also praised Hunter’s performance, both offensively and defensively.

“She’s a very valuable defensive player,” Mefford said. “She was guarding Alyson Davis in there who is a veteran center for them and she held her own in there real well guarding the big girl. She’s taking pride in her passing and rebounding. We’re hoping that she can start looking at the basket more and score some. I try to preach to them that there’s more to the game than scoring. An assist is just as good as a basket and Tasha’s done a good job on assists. It’s not all about scoring and Tasha understands that.”

With the win the Lady Panthers improved to 5-3 on the season. Carroll advanced into the title game to face Ashland Blazer, the third-ranked team in the 16th region.