The Lady Purple Hurricanes looked as if they had their game in hand after clawing their way to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter and stretching it to 27-13 by half time.
But Rome went on a 16-5 run over a 6-minute, 43-second stretch of the third frame and closed to 32-29. Not to worry, though, for Cartersville as the Lady Canes responded with a 6-0 run behind buckets by Kaelyn Irby and Monica Motuba and two free throws by Hallie Wachsmuth, to power back into the lead at 38-29 after three quarters.
Those points reignited the Cartersville scoring machine and the Lady Canes used a 23-16 fourth quarter to win 61-45.
Head coach Cindy Moore said she was glad to get the win but was not pleased with how Rome came back against the Lady Canes.
“We didn’t come out as focused in the third quarter,” she said. “We missed, by our count, seven shots that were point-blank right under the basket. We had a pretty good lead and let them back in because we didn’t finish. That was disappointing.”
She said Cartersville must learn from the game and added there were some positives about how the Lady Canes withstood the challenge.
“I loved the effort. I love the fact we had so many kids that come in and go hard,” she said. “But we’ve got to make better decisions at the end. We probably should have pulled it out and ran off a little more clock, but when you have folks in the open court who like to run, you don’t like to take it from them. But the third quarter was disappointing.”
Cartersville scored first on the evening, after Irby scored a bucket on a putback, and moved to a 7-2 lead after Morgan Jones and Irby hit five out of six free throws. That lead widened to 11-2 by the end of the first period.
The Lady Canes opened the second quarter with a 10-5 run to assume a 21-7 lead with just over two minutes left until the break. Both teams scored six points the rest of the way and Cartersville walked into halftime with a 27-13 lead. The Lady Canes had held Rome to two buckets until the 2:22 mark of the second quarter, but the Lady Wolves closed the quarter with three buckets. Rome blew the glass off the goal in the third quarter with a 16-5 run and closed to 32-29. Cartersville responded with a 6-0 run to end the frame as Wachsmuth hit two at the charity stripe and Motuba and Irby scored a bucket each to contribute toward a 38-29 lead.
Motuba found net with two shots to start the final frame but Rome matched those buckets to hang close. Cartersville then closed the game with a 19-12 run.
Moore said Cartersville had a tough outing but she wants to put the Lady Canes through some tough competition and let them learn some things about their team.
“Offensively we struggled. Defensively we lost our man a little too much and probably got caught flat-footed a little bit,” she said. “We’ve got to work on that. We’ve got to play 32 minutes.
“To Rome’s credit, they fought and fought. They’re a young team, so they’re hungry to get better every game and we’ve got to get better every game. Our coaches were telling them before the game that at the end of the game we need to get better at something. We did some good things, but we’ve got to get better at playing for four quarters of basketball and not play three quarters or two and a half quarters.”
She said the Lady Wolves are always a tough draw.
“Rome’s always going to fight you hard and they’re going to challenge you. That’s what we need and that’s what we want,” she said. “It makes you better every time you get on the floor against a team that’s athletic and runs. That’s certainly going to help us down the road. I like some of the things we’re doing, but it’s still early and we’ve got some corrections to make and that’s what we’ll do.”
Irby scored 14 points and Wachsmuth 12 to lead Cartersville offensively. Other scorers were Morgan Jones, 9; Motuba, 8, Maya Jones, Kate Garner, Rachel Christina and Madison McKinney, 4 each; and Kimora McClinic, 2.
The Lady Canes were 15 of 38 from the field.
Cartersville improved to 2-1 on the season with the win.