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The Lady Panthers kicked up their defensive pressure in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Wildcats, 14-7, to take a 21-20 halftime lead. Carroll County (3-9) would not trail again, breaking their eight-game skid with a 46-34 victory Wednesday night.
“We told the girls at halftime, right there at the end of the second quarter, we took the lead because of two things: we pressured the ball and we pushed the ball,” head coach Paul Stone said.
The win ties the series between the two district rivals, as Henry County (7-5) won on its home floor, 35-26, on Dec. 17.
“They scored basically the same number of points the first time we played them. The difference was we scored 44 [tonight]; last time we only scored 27,” Stone said. “This time when we got rebounds, we would look down the floor, look down the floor. Look at how many breakaway layups we had. Now, we missed some, but we got lots of breakaway layups.”
Down 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Panthers got active in the passing lanes. Of their 14 second-quarter-points, eight came off of deflections or steals on the defensive side of the ball, including the first play of the quarter when senior Kayla Williamson intercepted the inbounds pass and raced toward the basket for a layup. Junior Lauren Moore knocked away a pass that resulted in a transition bucket for sophomore Miranda Groseclose, then later in the quarter, Groseclose grabbed a steal and passed the ball up ahead to Williamson for another layup.
Late in the quarter, Williamson made another deflection and passed the ball to sophomore Chasity Burgin for a jumper that pulled them within one point with 31 seconds to go. Groseclose grabbed the rebound off a Henry missed shot and passed the ball ahead to Williamson for a layup at the buzzer, 21-20.
“We talk to them all the time about (pressuring) the ball and if you pressure the ball, they’ll make bad passes and they did. I’m talking about any team, not just Henry County,” Stone said. “If we sit back three or four feet off of the ball and let them throw wherever they want to, we can’t stop people. But that defense really spurred our offense.”
Carroll County continued this momentum into the third quarter, going on a 9-2 run. Henry County answered on a four-point possession with about four-and-a-half minutes to go. Senior Kimberly Barmore scored on an inside move and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but teammate senior Hailey Bramblett was there for the offensive rebound and putback to cut Carroll’s eight point lead in half.
Neither team could put anything together offensively until the end of the quarter. After breaking the press, Lady Panther senior Kristen “Doodle” Amick was fouled on the block and hit one of two free throws. Following a Henry offensive foul, senior Makena Kindoll nailed a 3-pointer to extend her team’s lead back to eight as the quarter came to a close.
The Lady Panthers fended off the Lady Wildcats in the fourth quarter, outscoring the visitors, 12-8, to close out the game.
Groseclose led all scorers with 14 points, followed by Williamson with 13 points. Kindoll scored 10 points, including three 3-pointers. Moore scored six points, Burgin scored two points and Amick scored one point.
“We got some good shots inside, we did a good job of passing the ball to the open teammate and we made jump shots,” Stone said. “Makena made several big threes, and we had some other good shots made. Overall it was a well-played game. If we shoot the ball just a little bit better, we beat them more than that … As a team we didn’t shoot great.”