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Lady Panthers take Lady Blackcats Tournament title

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By Kristin Beck

While other students were spending their Christmas break sleeping in and watching television, the girls’ basketball team spent at least part of the break winning a championship.

The Lady Panthers won four games in three days to win the Lady Blackcats Holiday Tournament in Prestonsburg, Ky.

“It was an excellent trip for us,” head coach Randy Mefford said. “We played very well throughout the tournament.”

The Lady Panthers overcame an eight-point second half deficit to defeat the Ladycats of Menifee County 53-39 in the championship game Thursday night. The girls each received gold medallions along with a team championship trophy.

Carroll got off to a slow start in the championship and was down 26-22 at halftime. Menifee County’s leading scorer, senior Leanne Mullins had 14 points at the half. She averages 22 points per game and has surpassed the 1,000-point mark.

When Menifee extended its lead to eight in the third quarter, Mefford called a timeout to regroup. He praised senior Kyndal Curry for her defense on Mullins in the second half, in which she held her to three points.

“We won the tournament with tremendous team defense,” he said. “…It was a good come-from-behind win on the road.”

Junior Hannah Devine led the Lady Panthers with a double-double, 26 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Kyndal Curry also hit double-figures with 13 points, followed by senior Tasha Hunter with 9 points.

In the first round Tuesday, Carroll defeated Elliott County 55-36. Devine scored 30 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Curry scored nine points with eight boards. Freshman Makena Kindoll also scored five points in the contest.

On Wednesday, the Lady Panthers won a double-header, the first against host Prestonsburg, 45-32, and the second over Shelby Valley, 62-57. Against Prestonsburg, Devine scored 30 points, including the team’s seven 3-pointers, while Curry scored nine points. Junior Nikki Hill led the team in rebounds with nine.

Mefford said the victory over Shelby Valley was the best win of the tournament for his team because the Lady Kats were 7-0 coming in. Devine posted a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Senior Jill Butcher also hit double figures with 11 points and six rebounds, while Hunter scored 9 points and had six rebounds. Curry led the team with 10 rebounds and scored six points.

Mefford said he hopes his team will build off of its tournament success and continue to improve throughout the season. He acknowledged that they still have “bigger fish to fry” with the Class A and district tournaments upcoming but that winning this tournament is something that can never be taken away from the team.

“It gives us confidence to know when we play well as a team, we can do some great things,” Mefford said. “… To be able to win four games in three days is quite a feat.”

All 15 girls in the program made the trip and dressed for the tournament. Mefford said all 15 played in the opening round game against Elliott County, and 12 girls played in the other three games. He said the trip was a great bonding experience for the girls and also gave his younger players some game experience. He also commended his seniors and Devine for the leadership they showed throughout the tournament. “The leadership they showed is hopefully rubbing off on the younger kids because they know what it takes to win a tournament.”

The Lady Panthers opened 2011 with an away game against district foe Henry County on Tuesday and will play at Gallatin County on Saturday.