Lady Panthers finish NAS tournament in fourth place

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By Kristin Beck

Following an embarrassing 44-23 second-round loss to Boyd County, the Carroll County Lady Panthers fought back only to fall 51-49 in a hard-fought match against Oldham County on Wednesday, Dec. 23 in the third round of the North American Stainless Basketball Classic.

Down 5-19 with 5:19 to go in the second quarter, the Lady Panthers cut the lead to 21-28 at the half. The game was tied 47-47 with 1:55 to go in the game. The teams exchanged trips to the free throw line. Following an Oldham County turnover, junior Kendall Curry was fouled on a drive to the basket with 13 seconds left and Carroll County down by two. She missed both free throws, but senior Mercedes Martin forced a jump ball to give the Lady Panthers one last shot. A missed jump shot by senior Sarah Osbourne and an Oldham County rebound sealed the game for the Lady Rebels.

Martin led the team with a career-high 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds in her first start of the season. Curry finished with eight points and a season-high 11 rebounds, and Osbourne scored 10 points along with three rebounds.

“We just weren’t able to get over that hump and take the lead and do what we had to do,” Head Coach Randy Mefford said. “We’re not satisfied by coming close because that doesn’t get you anything, coming close, but our girls did play hard tonight, and I was very proud of their effort.”

The Lady Rebels’ fast-paced style and full-court press forced the Lady Panthers out of their offense in the first half, but they were able to make the necessary adjustments at the break to get back on track in the second.

“We have a hard time simulating their quickness in our practices and a few times we got a little helter skelter … but when we took our time and used some pass fakes and took care of the ball, we were able to handle it and get some good shots at the basket,” Mefford said. “It was good work for us to play against that type of pressure.”

While Wednesday night’s game ended as a thriller, the matchup against Boyd County was anything but. Carroll County shot a dismal 6-42 from the field in what Mefford called “the worst performance we’ve had all year.”

“You’re not going to beat anybody shooting as poorly as we did,” Mefford said, following the game. “We had to give a lot of credit to Boyd County. … They took us out of what we like to do, and we had trouble getting shots. Frustration set in with our kids, and they just didn’t have a good performance tonight.”

The Lady Panthers tied the game 13-13 with 3:31 to go in the first half before the Lady Lions went on a 8-0 run heading into the locker room. They never looked back, outscoring Carroll County 14-6 in the third quarter. The Lady Panthers did not score their first field goal in the second half until a drive and layup by Osbourne with 1:30 to go in the third.

Mefford played mostly reserves in the fourth quarter, allowing his starters to rest and his other players to gain more experience. Curry led the team with eight points and nine rebounds in the loss. Both Curry and Osbourne were named to the NAS All-tournament team.

Starting point guard sophomore Hannah Devine played sparingly against Boyd County and did not play against Oldham County. She has been diagnosed with bruised cartilage, but is expected to play in the Sunshine Classic in Daytona Beach.

Mefford, who also serves as athletic director, said the organizers had received compliments on how the tournament was run.

“Of course (boys’ head coach Carroll) Yager and I both would have loved to have won some more games, but we knew we had a strong field, and he and I both love to play strong competition. That’s what the tournament is all about,” he said. “It’s our goal to make this tournament one of the very best holiday basketball tournaments in the state.”

Lady Panthers lose first round of Sunshine Classic

Unable to overcome a 19-6 first quarter deficit, the Lady Panthers lose 72-42 to Woodstock High in Georgia in the first round of the Sunshine Classic held at Daytona Beach. Sophomore Hannah Devine led the team with 20 points and six rebounds. Carroll County will play two more games in the tournament, with their next game against Perry County Central High School from Hazard, Ky.