Confidence and success tend to go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, you generally need to obtain some level of the latter to see the former shine through.
At the moment, the Cartersville girls are struggling for both.
The Canes have dropped five consecutive games, the most recent being a 44-28 defeat to Sandy Creek in Region 5-AAAA action Tuesday at Storm Center.
As has been the theme recently, Cartersville (5-9, 0-4) stayed competitive for three quarters. This time they trailed just 26-24 heading into the final period, and then they just couldn’t score in the fourth quarter.
It took until there was just under a minute left in the game for London Shaw, who led the Canes with eight points, to score the team’s first points of the quarter.
“I was pleased early on,” Cartersville coach Cindy Moore said. “I thought we did a good job against their halfcourt zone getting some decent looks.
But when you struggle to score, your confidence kind of gets away from you. I think that’s what happened at the end. Even when we were open, we were hesitant to shoot. ...
“I didn’t think we did a very good job the fourth quarter. I think we got tentative.”
The recent fourth-quarter struggles are a complete 180-degree turn from how Cartersville performed early in the season.
In the team’s home opener, the Canes outscored Paulding County, 19-6, in the final stanza for a 49-31 win. Just a few days later, Cartersville stunned Coosa by holding the Eagles scoreless over the final eight minutes for a stunning 42-41 victory.
Since then, the fourth quarter has been the team’s Achilles’ heel.
“Before Christmas, that was probably our strength,” Moore said. “We felt like we could win if we could keep it close into the fourth quarter.
“Since Christmas, it’s been a real struggle.”
That’s the difference confidence, or in this case, a lack thereof, can make.
Known for having low-scoring games, Cartersville trailed just 6-5 after one quarter. The teams combined for more offense — but not much — in the second quarter.
Shaw had four points in the period, and Cio Seigler banked home a 3-pointer, her only points of the night, in the closing seconds for a 16-13 halftime lead.
Even after a rough third quarter that saw Nina Lum sink a trio of 3-pointers for Sandy Creek (9-6, 3-0), Cartersville trailed by just two points heading to the fourth quarter.
“For three quarters, I thought we gave ourselves a chance and competed,” Moore said. “We kept it close, because of what we did defensively. But we struggled to score the second half, particularly the fourth quarter.
“Their length was a factor. ... They are probably the tallest team in the region.”
The Patriots knocked down 14-of-18 free throws over the final eight minutes. Lum, who finished with 15 points, sank five of her six foul shots in the period. Daija Powell, who also had 15 points, took over in the fourth quarter with seven points.
“Once they got up six or eight, we had to start fouling,” Moore said. “And they didn’t cooperate and miss any for us.”
Left searching for answers after another game got away, Moore pointed to turnovers and missed point-blank shots for dooming her team’s offense.
The good news is that both of those things can be worked on and ultimately fixed. The bad news is that the Canes currently lack the confidence to overcome the issues, particularly late in games.
One thing could fix a lot of what ails Cartersville.
“I think a win would certainly take a lot of the pressure off,” Moore said. “... You start aiming instead of shooting. You start being hesitant to make a pass, because you’re afraid to turn it over.
“We have the pieces to make a good run at the end of the season.”