The Cartersville girls showed their potential in dominating the third quarter of Saturday’s game Bartow County rival Woodland. The Canes also showed their inexperience in allowing the the Wildcats to mount a rally in the final period.
Derailed by three technical fouls in the fourth quarter, Woodland couldn’t quite complete the comeback, as Cartersville earned a 48-36 road win.
Basketball fans hoping for a quick game to get home in time to watch the SEC football championship game were disappointed, as Canes head coach Cindy Moore acknowledged afterwards.
“Fans of the SEC championship are probably not very pleased,” she said. “The fourth quarter was not a pretty sight for either team. They outscored us in the fourth. It was ugly. It was just one of those things, at the end, you just wanted it to be over. Fortunately, we came out on top.”
Cartersville (3-0) entered the final stanza with a 40-22 lead after expanding upon a 26-17 halftime advantage. Naijah Evans spurred the decisive outburst, scoring six of her seven points in the quarter.
Woodland utilized an effective press to narrow the gap in the fourth quarter, getting as close as 10 points before cumulative mistakes proved too much to overcome.
“Turnovers, had some missed layups, had some missed free throws,” Wildcat head coach Kyle Morgan said of what hurt his team. “To their credit, when we made some mistakes, they made us pay. That was the difference in the game. We left some points out early. I am proud of my girls for their competitive spirit and playing for 32 minutes.”
The home team trailed just 9-8 after one quarter, but Cartersville started to pull away in the second. A’mya Davis was the catalyst for the Canes, pouring home eight of her team-high 12 points in the period.
Woodland, meanwhile, continued to struggle putting the ball in the basket. Jordan Thompson had a game-high 13 points, and Madgie Robinson added eight. Outside of that, the Wildcats had nobody score more than six points.
“Our main problem is scoring the ball right now,” Morgan said. “We’d like to extend pressure, but in order to extend pressure, you’ve got to score consistently. Hopefully, that’s something we can continue to work for, as far as good shots and quality shots. As the season progresses, we can continue to build on the positives and remediate some of our weaknesses.”
Cartersville, likewise, had just one player in double-figures, but the Canes had enough balanced scoring, including nine points from Kierra Milline, to earn the win.
“Every situation we’ve got different folks stepping up to do some good things,” Moore said. “I think it’s something we can only improve on and get better at.”
The depth of the Canes was on full display coming out of halftime. Having taken the momentum into the locker room, Cartersville showcased the best of its capabilities with stifling defense and unselfish offense.
“I thought the third quarter we played very well,” Moore said. “We executed. We took good shots, ran what we needed to run and got what we wanted. In the fourth quarter, it was just the opposite. …
“One of the things I felt like we needed was confidence. When you win close games — now that wasn’t a single-digit game, but it was a battle — that should be something that we build off of. We know the fourth quarter we didn’t do what we needed to do. They kept coming after us. I’m excited to be in a situation where we get better every time we play.”
Woodland is looking for that as the season progresses. As for Saturday, Morgan is just glad his players didn’t phone in for the fourth quarter in hopes of catching the majority of the SEC title game.
“Not to discredit anybody we’ve played all year, but we’re our own worst enemy at times,” Morgan said. “A lot of that comes with having just a senior on the floor and the rest are underclassmen. We’re learning, and we could have folded up to go home early and watch the Georgia game. But they competed, and I’m proud of them.”