Carroll County played its best offensive game of the season Friday, but five turnovers in the fourth quarter ultimately doomed the Cavaliers in a 70-69 River Ridge District loss to Blacksburg in Hillsville.
The Cavaliers shot a sizzling 54.5 percent from the floor (24-of-44) and Adam Horton (24 points), Garret Haynes (20 points) and Caden Hodges (14 points) combined to score 58 points. And things looked good as Carroll County (6-5, 1-3 River Ridge) led 61-57 with 3:30 to play. The Cavaliers turned the ball over on its next three possessions, however, allowing the Bruins to go on a 9-0 run and take a 66-61 lead with just over a minute left to steal one in Hillsville.
“Offensively it’s the best we have played all year when we actually got shots. We weren’t getting enough shots and we were turning it over too much,” Carroll County head coach Tee Jackson said before putting much of the blame on himself for the loss. “I probably didn’t do a good job with my substitutions. I know the guys were struggling at the end of the game. I probably should have subbed more so that part is on me for guys getting fatigued and not giving them a rest. But yeah, close games usually come down to free throws and turnovers and we had too many turnovers.”
The game was nip and tuck the whole way with neither team leading by more than eight points at any time in the contest. Despite falling behind by eight twice in the second quarter, Carroll County battled back behind the scoring of Horton, Haynes and Hodges. Despite committing 15 turnovers, the Cavaliers battled back to take the lead much of the third quarter before Sebi Cianelli’s basket with 10 seconds remaining in the frame tied the game at 52.
Horton put the Cavaliers back on top at 55-52 with a 3-pointer to open the final quarter. The Carroll lead would grow to four twice in the fourth after Horton took an assist from Haynes and scored and again when Landon Williams’ pair of free throws made it 61-57 Carroll with 3:30 to play.
But turnovers plagued the Cavs all night. Two of the them came before the team built a four-point lead in the final quarter. And then Brady Johnston scored with 3:22 left, starting the 9-0 Blacksburg avalanche that saw the Cavs turn it over three straight times. Josh Van Glider and Rob Hudson sandwiched baskets around a Johnston 3-pointer to put Blacksburg ahead 66-61 with 1:03 to play.
“I am proud. Offensively, it is the best we have played all year. Defensively we couldn’t get stops when we needed to,” Jackson said. “I think their coach does a great job running some sets that are tough to guard and we were focused so much on their shooters because of what they had done to us in the first half, but a lot of times we weren’t communicating on our switches, guys were getting lost…We weren’t even able to get into our stuff at certain points of the fourth quarter. We would turn the ball over before we could get into the sets.”
Still, Carroll continued to fight. Haynes’ basket with 38 seconds left cut it to 66-63. Cianelli and Johnston hit a free throw each to make it 68-63 with 10.1 seconds left, but Haynes hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Cavs a glimmer of hope, down 68-66 with 2.7 seconds to play. Cianelli drilled two free throws a second later before Carroll’s Horton knocked down a 35-footer at the buzzer to provide the final margin.
“I am proud of them. We fought hard,” Jackson said. “I hate to waste such a good offensive performance. We are probably not going to shoot the ball that well again this year.”
Antonio Houston hit four 3-pointers, including three in the first half, to lead Blacksburg with 19 points. His hot shooting caused Carroll’s defense to ease up inside in the second half.
“We thought we had a good scout on them. We had number 23 as a shooter and he killed us,” Jackson said of Houston.
Bburg 12 21 19 18 – 70
Carroll 10 20 22 17 – 69
Blacksburg – Babcock 1 0-0 2, Roccaforte 1 0-0 2, Cianelli 2 4-6 8, Van Glider 4 3-3 11, Johnston 5 6-7 17, Hudson 0 1-2 1, Houston 7 1-1 19, Verbrugge 4 0-0 10. 3-pointers – Houston 4, Verbrugge 2, Johnston 1.
Carroll County – M. Johnson 2 0-0 6, Bowman 1 0-0 3, Horton 9 4-6 24, Hodges 5 0-0 14, Haynes 7 5-6 20, Williams 0 2-2 2. 3-pointers – Hodges 4, M. Johnson 2, Horton 2, Bowman 1, Haynes 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN