Trailing 36-33 early in the third quarter, Carroll County’s girls’ basketball team went on a run for the ages Tuesday to defeat Floyd County 72-47 in the Three Rivers District Tournament Championship game in Hillsville.
The Lady Cavaliers finished the game on a 39-11 run over the final 13 minutes. During that time, Floyd County (16-9) made just 2-of-18 shots from the floor, including just 1-of-12 in the fourth quarter. Carroll County (20-3) outscored the Buffaloes 25-6 in the final period to blow out what had been an extremely hard-fought and physical game up until that point.
“That is the way you are supposed to close games out. We held the press off for a long, long time. We tried to press them a little bit the last game we played them here and we got our lead up pressing but we got in foul trouble, so we were trying to hold it off as long as we could to make sure we weren’t going to get in early foul trouble,” Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said. “We talked about it at halftime and we said, ‘When do we want to go for it, when do we want do it? Well, they came out with a lot more energy than we did in the third quarter. At that point I said we have got to do something to turn it up and that’s when we started pressing.”
The Cavaliers struggled early on as the Buffaloes came out with a physical, full-court trap that forced 11 turnovers in the first half. Carroll pulled out to a 17-10 lead after one quarter, but Floyd stormed back to go ahead 23-22 with three minutes left in the opening half. Carroll finished the quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 30-25 advantage at intermission, but a fired-up Buffaloes’ squad scored 11 of the first 14 points in the third quarter to go back in front 36-33.
And it was about that time the Cavaliers overwhelmed Floyd with its own press and began stringing baskets together. Along the way, there were many impact performers who made it happen. There were the usual suspects – Three Rivers District Player of the Year Mariah Carter and fellow first-team all-district player Madi Dalton. Carter finished with 21 points and added seven rebounds and six steals, while Dalton filled up the stat sheet with 25 points and nine rebounds.
Another All-Three Rivers District first-teamer, Danielle Gallimore, only scored two points, but grabbed nine rebounds. Second-Team All-TRD selection Abigail Kennedy also had a big night with eight points and 10 rebounds.
“She earned that certificate out there and she deserved every bit of it. If we don’t have three on the first team she is probably another first teamer,” Motley, who was named Three Rivers Coach of the Year, said about Kennedy. “She has played great for us, especially the last month. I mean she had a career-high (14 points the previous night) and tonight I put her on their best player. Mariah got in foul trouble and Kenda (Robinson) got in foul trouble and I had said, ‘Abi, can you guard 14?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I will take it.’ So we put her on 14 and I don’t think she scored but a layup and free throw after that.”
And it wasn’t just the starters that shined for Carroll, either. The Cavaliers’ bench has been a major contributor all season and the TRD Championship game was no different. In particular, Motley said Abi Easter, who finished with nine points and three assists, and Kenda Robinson both came up huge against the Buffs.
“I thought we just had some really huge performances off the bench and that was with Abi Easter and Kenda Robinson. We had good performances out of our starters, don’t get me wrong, but Abi came in and started taking care of the basketball,” Motley said. “Don’t look at points, the other things that those two kids did when they went on the floor was huge and they made really big contributions – taking care of the basketball, rebounding the basketball and playing defense.”
Perhaps the unsung hero of the night for Carroll was the student section. Affectionately known as the Cavalier Crazies, the Carroll student section was quite possibly as loud as it has ever been Tuesday, which is saying something. The Cavalier Crazies hooped and hollered and especially made things tough on Floyd County free-throw shooters.
“I think they are (worth) at least 10 points. I hope they keep coming out and supporting us. They have for several years now,” Motley said. “I tell these kids, especially Mariah going to play at Roanoke (College), you better enjoy this because you are not ever going to have crowds like you get at Carroll County High School. There are a lot of girl sports that will never get crowds like we get, including softball. We’ve got great fans, great support and kids are out having fun. That is what I love.”
Even though the district tournament championship game eventually ended with a lopsided score, it felt very different than the many blowouts the Cavaliers have racked up this season running through the Three Rivers without a district loss. With Carroll set to host Liberty Christian Academy on Feb. 16 in the Region 4D Quarterfinals, a tough game with Floyd could not have come at a better time.
“This is a great game for us because we need to play teams that play hard and they played hard tonight,” Motley said. “We were just able to put the basketball in the hole and we have done that a lot lately. I hope we can continue to do it.”
Floyd 10 15 16 6 – 47
Carroll 17 13 17 25 – 72
Floyd County – Kiser 2 0-2 5, Turman 0 1-2 1, Whitlow 3 1-2 9, Thompson 4 3-6 13, Altizer 0 2-2 2, Harris 0 1-2 1, C. Pratt 1 0-0 2, Belshan 5 3-4 14. 3-pointers – Whitlow 2, Thompson 2, Kiser 1, Belshan 1.
Carroll County – Easter 1 6-9 9, Dalton 8 7-11 25, Gallimore 0 2-2 2, Robinson 0 1-2 1, Alley 1 3-3 6, Carter 8 4-6 21, Kennedy 3 2-2 8. 3-pointers – Dalton 2, Easter 1, Alley 1, Carter 1.
Carroll Co. 92, Giles 24
Carroll County knocked down a school-record 14 3-pointers on Feb. 12 en route to a 92-24 blowout of Giles in a Three Rivers District Tournament Semifinal in Hillsville.
Danielle Gallimore and Mariah Carter both scored 15 points to lead six players in double figures for Carroll (19-3). Abigail Kennedy and Amy Jo Caviness tossed in 14 points, Madi Dalton netted 13 and Kenda Robinson contributed 12 points. Laken Alley did not score but led the Cavaliers with 12 assists.
Carroll County roared out to a 33-5 lead after the first quarter and a 60-15 advantage at the half. Gallimore drilled five 3-pointers and Caviness made four for the Lady Cavs. Dalton connected on three triples, while Robinson and Kayla Shockley each found the range from downtown in the win.
Giles 5 10 4 5 — 24
Carroll 33 27 21 11 — 92
Giles – Kirk 10, Maldonado 8, Bailey 4, Houston 1, Vangelos 1. 3-pointers – Bailey 1, Maldonado 1.
Carroll County – Dalton 13, Caviness 14, Gallimore 15, Robinson 12, Giles 6, Carter 15, Kennedy 14, Shockley 3. 3-pointers – Gallimore 5, Caviness 4, Dalton 3, Robinson 1, Shockley 1.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN