Thanks in large part to a suffocating defense, Carroll County’s girls’ basketball team knocked off powerhouse Floyd County for the first time in five years Wednesday, 48-41 in Hillsville.
Although the Cavaliers struggled with turnovers (committing 20) and closing the game out (allowing Floyd to cut a 14-point lead with 3:41 to play down to six), Carroll County (1-0) looked sharp for a season opener. Most impressively, the Cavaliers limited Floyd (0-1) to 26.3 percent shooting (15-of-57) from the floor.
“I’ll take that against a team of their caliber. They are not going to shoot that bad every night, but I like to feel like our kids defensively had a lot to do with that,” Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said. “It’s unfortunate that the (Natalie) Booth kid wasn’t here. She is a good shooter and she’s probably their best outside shooter other than (Ragan) Wiseman, but those things happen and we can’t do anything about that. I am just pleased we came out the first game of the year and were able to get a win against a quality, quality, quality basketball team.”
Other than an 83-second stretch of the first quarter, Carroll County led the whole way. Junior standouts Mattie Kennedy and Keely Lundy led the team with 13 points each, but 10 different Cavaliers scored in a balanced effort.
Leading 38-27 heading into the fourth quarter, Carroll appeared to be in complete control as it opened the final period on 5-2 run to go ahead by 14 points. Kennedy added two free throws and Lundy tacked on another to make it 46-32 with just 2:35 remaining when the Buffaloes made their final stand.
After four consecutive offensive rebounds, Maggie Evans scored on a putback for Floyd. Carroll would turn the ball over on its next four possession and Floyd capitalized on a Mallory Cox 3-pointer and a Michaela Thompson basket to cut it to 46-39 with 44 seconds to play. Danielle Gallimore and Rylee Haynes each hit a free throw in the final minute, however, to help the Cavaliers hang on for the big win.
“End of quarter situations I didn’t think we handled very well. End of the first quarter we turned it over with 20 seconds trying to make a great pass. End of the second quarter we take a shot way too early and even got an offensive rebound and threw it away after that,” Motley said. “We just didn’t understand clock situations and that’s my fault for not spending enough time early in the year on it. But this is a veteran team and they should know better. The last two-and-a-half minutes this early in the year we don’t have a lot of slowdown stuff. We like to go and we are so much better when we are attacking than when we are trying to take care of the basketball. But I thought we got caught standing a lot in the last two-and-a-half minutes watching Mattie play, and sometimes that is a detriment.”
Carroll jumped out to a 3-0 lead after a pair of back-to-back steals by Mariah Carter. Floyd answered with a 7-0 run, but Haley Turman scored inside off an assist from Kennedy to tie the game at 7-all. A Lundy 3-pointer gave the Cavs a 10-7 lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Carroll stretched its lead to 20-13 midway through the second quarter after Kennedy sank two of three foul shots following a technical on Floyd County coach Travis Cantrell. The Buffs scored the final four points of the half, though, to make it a 20-17 game at intermission.
Carroll regained control in the third quarter as Turman scored on an assist from Carter, Lundy drilled a 3-pointer and Kennedy made a pair of free throws for a 27-19 lead. Kennedy added a 3-pointer and Lundy and Jade Holt both scored inside to push the Cavalier advantage to nine points at 38-27 heading into the fourth quarter. Carroll would go on to increase the lead to 14 in the final period before the late Floyd rally.
“Other than the last two-and-a-half minutes I was pretty pleased. I thought we were solid, solid, solid defensively,” Motley said. “The Wiseman kid that had 20 tonight is going to the University of Richmond next year. She is a division I player and the Booth kid that is hurt signed (with UVa-Wise). They lost three quality starters…but they play with such great effort, they are well-coached and they never quit. It’s a good win for us.”
Even though Lundy and Kennedy (13 points each) combined for more than half of Carroll’s points, eight other Cavaliers scored. Turman added eight points, Haynes and Carter had three points, while Madisyn Dalton, Holt, Carlie McMillian each had two. Gallimore and Sami Reece also scored a point each in the win.
Floyd 10 7 10 14 – 41
Carroll 13 7 18 10 – 48
Floyd County – Avancini 1 1-2 3, Wiseman 6 6-6 20, Cox 1 0-0 3, Gallimore 3 0-0 6, Thompson 3 0-0 6, Jones 0 0-2 0, Evans 1 1-1 3. 3-pointers – Wiseman 2, Cox 1.
Carroll County – Lundy 4 2-4 13, Dalton 1 0-0 2, Gallimore 0 1-2 1, Kennedy 1 10-14 13, Haynes 1 1-2 3, Carter 0 3-4 3, Holt 1 0-0 2, McMillian 1 0-0 2, Turman 4 0-0 8, Reece 0 1-2 1. 3-pointers – Lundy 3, Kennedy 1.