Cass girls bury Cartersville with 16 treys

By NICHOLAS SULLIVAN
Posted 1/12/21

The Cass girls are so prolific on offense that they could beat most teams shooting exclusively layups and free throws. That being said, when the Colonels catch fire from distance, it becomes about …

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Cass girls bury Cartersville with 16 treys

Posted

The Cass girls are so prolific on offense that they could beat most teams shooting exclusively layups and free throws. That being said, when the Colonels catch fire from distance, it becomes about damage control for the opposition.

Hosting Cartersville for the first time in just over five years, Cass put on a shooting display for the ages in the Region 7-AAAAA matchup. The Colonels, ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, sank 16 shots from beyond the arc — half of which came in the second quarter — en route to a resounding 90-31 win Tuesday at home.

"It's one of the best shooting performances I've been a part of since I've been a coach here," Colonels head coach Burt Jackson said. "That's saying something, because we've had some really good shooting teams in the past."

While Cass (15-0, 2-0) had already wrestled control away by the end of the first quarter, during which the Colonels grabbed a 20-6 lead, the second stanza saw the hosts knock down eight treys.

Former Cane Haley Johnson hit two quick ones; Mikaela Jackson buried three during the period; and Makyera Baldwin, Claire Davis and Gracie Elkins each hit one 3 to help send Cass into the locker room up 48-18.

"I thought she passed up two or three open looks in the first quarter," coach Jackson said of Johnson. "... Sure enough, she took the first two shots in the second quarter. She buried them, and we rolled from there.

"Once Haley hit those 3s, the lead opened up, and you could see everybody relaxed."

The 3-point barrage continued into the second half. Four different players connected from deep in the third quarter, and Tatianna Christian came off the bench to drain a pair of 3s and score nine points in the fourth quarter.

"She works hard in practice; she's a great teammate," Jackson said of Christian. "She's a senior, and I'm so happy for her. She was about to go her entire career and not get to experience this game. ...

"She'll remember this fourth quarter for the rest of her life. That's what it's all about."

Cartersville (3-6, 0-1) entered the night on a three-game winning streak. The Canes would have anticipated having some difficulty slowing down the Colonels, but even a team that entered the game holding opponents to 49 points on average couldn't stop Cass once it got rolling.

"You shoot the ball like that, you're going to have a great season," Cartersville head coach Cindy Moore said. "I haven't been at practice since Thursday, so that's probably been a little distraction. Not enough to overcome them. They're just a good team."

Ansley Griffin paced the Canes with 11 points, while Sequoyah McConnell added eight.

"I thought we had some good looks early," Moore said of her offense. "When we missed the shots, you could kind of see our confidence draining away from us. We've got to get better.

"I feel like that's the best team in the region right now. Hopefully, when they come to our place in a few of weeks, we have a better show."

Meanwhile, the Colonels managed to get seven players with at least eight points.

Davis led the group with a modest 14 points. Johnson recorded 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Mikaela Jackson wound up with 11 points. Baldwin matched Christian with nine points, while Elkins and Londaisha Smith each chipped in with eight.

Despite being tied for sixth-leading scorer on the night, Smith enjoyed one of the highlights of her career. Inside the opening minute of the second half, Smith cut backdoor on an inbounds pass and converted a layup to eclipse 1,000 career points.

Often regarded by coach Jackson as the best defensive player he's ever had, Smith is making a case for an even higher honor.

"Possibly the best player I've ever had, and that's saying something," Jackson said of Smith. "I've made some mistakes as a coach, and one of the biggest I've made is not pulling her up onto the varsity as a freshman. ...

"She loves the game. She plays year round. She's our team captain. She never takes a practice off."

Smith will be expected to produce one of her signature games Friday, when Cass hosts Hiram in a battle of top-10 teams. The Colonels entered the week one slot ahead of the Hornets, who should prove to be a good measuring stick for its unbeaten foe.

Then again, if Cass makes its long-range shots at the same volume and efficiency level that it did against Cartersville, Hiram may not provide the type of challenge Jackson is expecting.

"You get two or three girls hitting shots and everyone relaxes," he said of the key to the shooting performance. "That's what happened tonight. Everybody was relaxed, because everybody was on. There was no pressure.

"I feel like this team, when we play together and care for each other the way we did tonight, we're going to be an extremely difficult team to beat."