Employing a suffocating defense and a red-hot offense, Carroll County’s girls’ basketball team opened the postseason with a bang Thursday, hammering William Byrd 67-35 in a Conference 24 Semifinal in Hillsville.
With a spot in the conference title game and a berth in the 4-A West Region Tournament on the line, the Cavaliers fired on all cylinders in improving to 20-3. Leading 6-5 with three minutes left in the opening quarter, Carroll County finished the first half on a 29-5 run, effectively putting the Terriers away in building a 35-10 halftime lead.
Although the Lady Cavs shot 65 percent (13-of-20) from the floor in the first half, including a scorching 80 percent (8-of-10) in the second quarter, head coach Marc Motley was more impressed with Carroll’s defense. The Cavs forced 17 turnovers – while only turning it over three times themselves – and made it tough on William Byrd (15-9) to even get off a shot at times.
“I was extremely impressed with our defense. We gave up 13 shot attempts in the first half and 10 points. I was super impressed,” Motley said. “They shoot so many threes and we did such a good job of getting out and closing out without leaving our feet. We did a super job with that…As for just shooting a three and going to the basket and getting their bigs open, we didn’t allow that to happen and that is a huge advantage for us if we can do that. Our post defense was as good as I have ever seen it tonight. Jade (Holt) and Haley (Turman) played unbelievable, and our help-side kids were great. They were helping and still being able to get out and close out on the 3-point shot. That makes a huge difference.”
With the defense in lockdown mode, Keely Lundy got hot on the other end of the court. Knocking down three 3-pointers in the first half, the Carroll junior scored 13 points before intermission and finished with a game-high 18 points. She sparked a 7-0 Cavalier run to end the first quarter, sandwiching a layup and a 3-pointer around a Holt offensive stickback to stake the home team to a 13-5 lead.
Lundy picked up where she left off to start the second quarter, knocking down two more 3-pointers to boost Carroll’s cushion to 21-7. Mariah Carter completed an 11-0 run with a trick shot straight out of the Harlem Globetrotters’ playbook, flinging up a high-arching attempt above the backboard that banked in as she was falling down while getting fouled in the lane. She added the free throw to make it 24-7. Carroll would score eight of the next 10 points to take a commanding 35-10 advantage at the half.
“When one side of the ball is playing really well it tends to bring the other side of the ball with it,” Motley said of the blistering first half.
The Cavs weren’t about to let up, however, not after the Hidden Valley fiasco earlier in the season. In that January game in Hillsville, Carroll led the Titans 35-13 at the half before a 22-0 run helped Hidden Valley pull off a 57-54 stunner.
“Oh, it was talked about in the locker room. ‘Guys, uh, we were up about 22 on Hidden Valley. You are up 25. You have to play the whole second half like it’s 0-0,’” Motley said about his halftime speech. “And that is what we did…Everybody we put in played great tonight. Maddie Dalton, Jade and Mariah, man, they really stepped up and played. They played as good as I have seen them play all year.”
Aside from Lundy’s big night, Mattie Kennedy added 15 points for Carroll and Carter and Dalton each scored 10. Turman added eight points and Holt chipped in six. With the win, the Cavaliers earned the right to host William Fleming on Friday night in the Conference 24 Final at 7 p.m. in Hillsville.
William Byrd 5 5 14 11 – 35
Carroll Co. 13 22 13 19 – 67
William Byrd – Ferguson 1 2-4 5, Burton 3 2-2 10, Hoal 2 0-0 6, Marvin 1 0-0 3, Hart 2 0-0 4, Stanley 2 2-2 7. 3-pointers – Burton 2, Hoal 2, Ferguson 1, Marvin 1, Stanley 1.
Carroll County – Lundy 6 3-4 18, Dalton 4 2-2 10, Kennedy 3 8-9 15, Carter 4 2-4 10, Holt 3 0-0 6, Turman 4 0-0 8. 3-pointers – Lundy 3, Kennedy 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN