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The Lady Panthers struggled shooting the ball Monday night against the visiting Villa Madonna Blue Lightning zone defense. Despite an early fourth quarter comeback, Carroll County could not bridge the gap and lost, 44-34.
Monday also was Senior Night, and emotions ran high early as the Lady Panthers said goodbye to seniors Kristen “Doodle” Amick, Makena Kindoll,Tatum McIntyre and Kayla Williamson in a ceremony before the game. Rick McMahan, who coached the girls from fourth grade through eighth grade, said a few words about the girls, followed by Lady Panthers head coach Paul Stone. “I want to say a special goodbye to my seniors: Tatum, Doodle, Kayla and Makena,” Stone said during his post game interview. “I have enjoyed coaching them, and I wish them the best in the future.”
At the start of the game, the Lady Panthers struggled to get into a rhythm and fell behind early, 7-0.
Junior Lauren Moore scored Carroll County’s first points on an old fashioned three-point-play following an offensive rebound. She scored again on the next possession after a great inside pass from fellow forward McIntyre to cut the lead to two.
But Carroll went two minutes without a basket before sophomore Chasity Burgin hit a jumper with a little over two minutes to play, 14-7. The girls did not score the rest of the quarter, down 16-7 at the end of the quarter.
Williamson injured her ankle near the start of the second quarter, but was able to return and played the rest of the game. Both teams scored 10 points and the deficit remained atnine at halftime, 26-17.
“We shot the ball horribly,” Stone said. “It was a rough night being senior night. The girls were very emotional before the game, and we came out and we couldn’t throw one in the ocean if the waves were splashing our feet. We were 0 for forever in the first half from 3-point line, probably 0-12 at least. At home, we’ve shot a little better than that.”
The Lady Panthers hit three treys in the third quarter, but Villa Madonna matched them almost basket for basket. Carroll County trailed 35-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
The girls opened the quarter on an offensive spurt, with baskets by Moore and Williamson to cut the lead to four, 35-31. The Blue Lightning answered with two free throws, but Moore tied the game again with an offensive rebound and putback, 37-33 with 4:30 to go.
Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, that would be their last field goal of the game. The Blue Lightning did a good job of running out the clock and forcing the Lady Panthers to foul. Villa Madonna hit 6-8 free throws down the stretch to hold on to the win.
“We cut it to four, and then we got in a little stretch where we couldn’t buy another shot,” Stone said. “… The girls were hustling, and they were trying. You’ve got to give them credit for their effort, all of them, but we just never could quite get over that hump.”
With the loss, Carroll County falls to 6-15, with two away games remaining: Newport (18-8) Thursday and Walton-Verona (15-11) Friday.
Carroll County hosts the 31st District Tournament, and No. 2 seeded Lady Panthers take on No. 3 seeded Henry County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Between now and then, pass faking will be one of the points of emphasis for Stone and his coaching staff.
“We preach to them, we work on it in practice, we talk about how important pass faking is. We make some of the craziest passes sometimes, and we don’t pass fake and then we get mad at ourselves because we threw it out of bounds, but we didn’t pivot or pass fake. If you don’t pivot or pass fake, the percentage of that pass being completed goes down.”
No. 4 seeded Owen County takes on No. 5 seeded Eminence at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24. The winner will play No. 1 seeded Gallatin County at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25. The winner of that game will take on the winner between Carroll and Henry for the championship at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27.