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Carroll head coach Randy Mefford summed it up best: “It just goes to show you, anything can happen in a rivalry game.”
The Lady Panthers (5-13) bounced back from a 10-point first quarter deficit to defeat the visiting Lady Raiders 36-34 in overtime.
Trimble (6-9) had the opportunity to end the game in regulation when referees called a foul with .2 seconds remaining, sending sophomore Paige Black to the free throw line for a pair. Down one, Black missed the first and sank the second, extending the game another four minutes knotted at 34.
In overtime, both teams struggled to get anything going offensively. With 1:42 to go, Trimble sophomore Jesse Dunlap attempted to steal an entry pass and fouled Carroll senior Brittany Arvin. Arvin hit one for two at the free throw line, 35-34.
With 10.2 seconds left and coming out of a timeout, Carroll rebounded a Trimble missed shot, and the referees tagged Trimble head coach Kerrie Stewart with a technical foul for arguing a call. Sophomore Makena Kindoll stepped to the line for the Lady Panthers and hit one of two free throws with 1.3 seconds left, sealing the win.
“This is one of the strangest games I’ve ever been involved in, to be honest with you,” Mefford said. “Our kids though, I told them in the locker room I was real proud of them, they are finally catching on a bit, seems to me. They did a really good job of running the offense and trying to be a little more patient, not always just throwing up a quick shot, and that’s the way we need to try to play if we can keep from turning it over. They beat us by 24 points the second game of the season and I think we’ve improved some, I really do.”
Stewart said the game was “frustrating across the board. We didn’t execute up to our ability, I know that. We shouldn’t have been in that position. I’m not going to sit here and say I wasn’t frustrated with some of the officiating, but there again, I don’t think officiating costs us ball games. We’ve got to learn to play above that. We’ve got to hit some shots we didn’t hit, play a little better defense.”
Trimble won the first match-up in Bedford, 53-29, on Dec. 2. It was on this night that Carroll lost leading-scorer senior Hannah Devine to a season-ending knee injury.
“Carroll did a nice job of being very patient in their offense, and I commend them on their execution of the game,” Stewart said. “Coach Mefford obviously had them prepared, and they executed his game plan and did a nice job of it and hit enough shots when they had to. They’ve obviously improved, and it’s been difficult for them, I know, not having Hannah, and they’ve come a long way and my hats off to them. It was frustrating for us.”
Early on it looked like the Lady Raiders would run away with another blowout victory. Following a basket by Carroll’s Nikki Hill to open the game, Trimble senior Sarakate Long hit three-straight 3-pointers to give the Lady Raiders a 9-2 lead and force a Carroll timeout.
Hill took the reins for the Lady Panthers, playing aggressively and igniting a fire under her team. She finished the game with a solid performance across the board: nine points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
“Nikki is our do-it-all player. She handles the ball, she rebounds, she passes the ball. She’s a great teammate, a great kid overall,” Mefford said. “She had one of her better games. I don’t think I took her out. I think she played 36 minutes. She’s kind of the backbone of what we do. She takes the ball out of bounds for us, which I’ve always said you have to have your smartest kid out there doing that … she’s done a good job for us for most of the year.”
Carroll shaved four points off of Trimble’s lead, down 22-16 at the half.
In the third, the Lady Panthers ran two straight plays to senior Brittany Arvin, who was posted up in the middle of the lane for a short jumper. A field goal by Hill cutting to the basket, capped off a 6-0 run and cut the lead to 27-23. After three quarters, it was still a four-point game, and the home team was feeling confident.
“We’ve been out of so many games at halftime, and this game, the girls felt good,” Mefford said. “They were in the ballgame at halftime, they were in the ballgame after three quarters. Trimble is a middle of the pack team in the region, they’re not in the upper echelon, but still, Kerrie does a great job with them and we maybe caught them on a bad night is what I’m thinking too.”
Carroll took the lead on a 3-pointer in the right corner by Kindoll with 3:40 remaining, 31-30. Kindoll led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 12.
Trimble answered with a 3-point play by junior Chloe Griffith and regained the lead.
Coming out of a timeout, the Lady Panthers were patient and worked the ball around the horn, finding an open Andie Hardesty near the basket. The senior hit the shot, was fouled and hit the free throw, 34-33 Carroll.
Carroll’s strength in the game was that ability to take their time in their offensive sets and find a good shot. That patience frustrated Trimble. “Their flex offense hurt us,” Stewart said. “We gave up too many easy shots right under the basket, just not being in position to take that pass away.”
Missed free throws and turnovers also played a huge role in the game. While Trimble had the opportunity to win the game with .2 seconds left, Carroll could have put the game away before then had they hit their free throws. The Lady Raiders were whistled for 20 fouls, compared to 10 by the Lady Panthers. However, Carroll shot just 8-26 from the charity stripe, while Trimble was 5-12.
Trimble turned the ball over 24 times, which was a contributing factor in losing their two-digit lead. “We just didn’t put it away,” Stewart said. “We’d turn the ball over or didn’t get a good look at the basket that we wanted, and they would come down and be very patient in their offense until they got something really easy underneath and they just slowly but surely chipped away at that lead and put themselves into position to win.”
Carroll committed 16 turnovers, well below their season average. Mefford said before the game, he wrote 15 or under on the board in the locker room, emphasizing the importance of cutting down on their mistakes.
With the loss, Trimble extended their losing streak to four. The Lady Raiders have been struggling offensively of late, posting three of their four lowest points totals for the season. Stewart said they have been working a lot on shooting in practice and making sure the right people are getting the ball in their hands. “I don’t have the explanation of why the ball’s not going in the basket,” she said. “Our timing and things, we’re just out of rhythm right now.”
On the flip side, the win ends Carroll’s three-game losing streak. “We’re just tickled to get a win,” Mefford said. “We’re 4-13 going into this, so any time we get a win, it’s a good win.”
Trimble County (34)
Black 9, Long 9, Griffith 7, Temple 4, M. Dunlap 3, Kuner 2.
Carroll County (36)
Kindoll 3-8 4-6 12, Hill 4-8 1-6 9, B. Arvin 2-7 2-8 6, Hardesty 2-3 1-2 5, Williamson 2-7 0-2 4.
Trimble County 16 6 7 5 0_34
Carroll County 6 10 9 9 2_36
3-Point Goals –– Trimble County 5-20, Carroll County 2-12. Rebounds – Trimble County 36, Carroll County 30 (Hill 8). Assists_Trimble County 4, Carroll County 11 (Hill 4). Total Fouls_Trimble County 20, Carroll County 10