Carroll County went toe-to-toe with undefeated William Fleming for 30 minutes Wednesday night. Late turnovers and an 8-0 Colonels’ run doomed the Cavaliers, however, in a 60-50 non-district loss in Hillsville.
The two powerful Southwest Virginia girls’ basketball programs have had epic battles over the past few years, including two Conference 24 Championship games and a Region 4A West title game in the last two years alone. Wednesday’s contest was no different, with the Colonels holding a slim 52-50 with 1:53 to play. Carroll County (5-2) committed three turnovers in the deciding span, however, and seven in the fourth quarter as William Fleming (7-0) ending the game on an 8-0 run.
“I thought we played really well for about 28 minutes, but in that fourth quarter, the last four minutes, we turned the ball over a little too much and actually missed a few bunnies. We had a couple of easy shots we missed, but the biggest thing was when we got down by four or six and we had to press,” Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said. “I could sit there and let them run the clock out but it doesn’t matter to me whether we lose by 10 or we lose by two. If we are down we have to try something and they are a very, very difficult team to press. We will press a little bit but their speed and athleticism, they get by you and have three-on-one going the other way and they finish.”
It was a see-saw affair the whole evening with Carroll County jumping out to an early 9-4 lead after Danielle Gallimore’s 3-pointer halfway through the period. Fleming would end the quarter on a 13-5 run, however, and upped its lead to 24-16 midway through the second thanks in large part to second-chance points.
“That was our plan the whole game, keep them out of the lane as much as possible and keep them off the offensive boards, which I am not sure we did that very well. Most of the second half we kept them off the offensive boards,” Motley said. “But we got down by a few buckets and had to press and they are just a pretty tough team for us to have to press. We know that, our kids know that, too. We want to play fast on the offensive end, but they are pretty darn fast, can make a run and they can finish when they get there.”
The Cavaliers pulled to within two points by halftime then regained the lead early in the third at 30-28 after four straight points by Abigail Kennedy. Kennedy finished with six points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
“I really thought Kennedy grew up a little bit tonight. She has been just a rebounder and defender and tonight she put the ball in the hole a little bit for us,” Motley said. “We started isolating her and she started getting some baskets. If I can see that down the road I think we will be a lot tougher to handle if we can start getting a few points out of our post players.”
Fleming surged ahead 40-34 late in the third, but Amy Jo Caviness finished the period on a personal 5-0 run with a 3-pointer and a shot in the lane to make it a one-point game heading into the fourth. A Gallimore 3-pointer tied the game at 44-all with 5:09 to play and Carroll took a 46-44 lead with 3:50 left when Mariah Carter scored on a nice pass from Laken Alley. From that point forward, Fleming’s pressure defense and transition game took over. The Colonels jumped several Cavalier baskets and turned them into quick points the other way to finish off the win.
“I told our kids don’t hang your heads. You played great for 28 minutes and just a few breaks, missed a couple of shots, had a couple of bad turnovers late, but I was proud of their effort. We fought hard. We didn’t leave anything out there but that is a good basketball team,” Motley said. “Some shots we made early and maybe our legs got a little tired. It is very possible. They run you up and down the floor and we could have been just a little bit tired there at the end of the game, but figure both teams would be a little bit tired at the end of the game. This is a really good test for us. I told the kids in the locker room I called them and wanted to play them because I knew they were good. We want to measure ourselves and they are typically the measuring stick around Roanoke. That is a great game for us, win or lose.”
Taniah Johnson led William Fleming with 18 points and Dasmine Kasey added 10. Mariah Carter paced the Cavaliers with 21 points, while Madi Dalton, Gallimore, Kenda Robinson and Kennedy all scored six.
W. Fleming 17 9 14 20 – 60
Carroll Co. 14 10 15 11 – 50
William Fleming – Poindexter 4 0-0 8, Board 2 4-5 8, Ferguson 2 0-0 4, Anderson 4 1-1 9, Johnson 7 2-4 18, Kasey 5 0-2 10, Ouie 1 1-2 3. 3-pointers – Johnson 2.
Carroll County – Dalton 2 2-2 6, Caviness 2 0-0 5, Gallimore 2 0-0 6, Robinson 3 0-1 6, Carter 10 1-2 21, Kennedy 2 2-4 6. 3-pointers – Gallimore 2, Caviness 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN