The Lady Purple Hurricanes actually trailed the Lady Phoenix through three quarters of play, 50-46, when Irby took over the game by scoring 16 points in the final quarter and led her team to its 66-60 victory.
Cartersville head coach Cindy Moore called the result a big win for the team.
“Obviously it’s a tremendous win, [Sonoraville] being the No. 1 team in the region and for us to knock them off here at the Storm Center. It’s a great feeling. Kae is just ... there are no words.”
She had praise for the team’s performance.
“I’m proud of the kids. I’m proud of the effort. We hung in there. We had a few spurts where they got the lead, but we didn’t quit. We stayed calm and did what we needed to do. It was a team effort, even though Kae obviously put on the kind of performance that lets people know what kind of player she is. Thank goodness she plays for Cartersville.
But when you’ve got a senior-led team like that and you get a chance to open a region game at home and it’s against the best team in the region; certainly we wanted to answer the call and I feel like we did.”
The game did not start out quite so favorably for the home team as Sonoraville opened with a 9-1 run in the game’s first three minutes.
The Lady Canes were game but four turnovers in that time frame and a penchant for missing some easy baskets worked against their cause.
Then Morgan Jones, who sank a free throw for the Lady Canes’ first point, kissed the backboard with a 2-pointer in the paint and jump-started Cartersville’s offense to close to 9-3 with 4:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Irby buried the first of five 3-pointers a play later, closing to 9-6. Cartersville followed up with an 8-5 run and the two teams were knotted at 14-all as Sonoraville sputtered a bit under its opponent’s withering pressure, committing four turnovers itself.
Cartersville opened the second quarter with a 12-4 run and ambled out to a 26-18 lead when Irby tacked on a three-point play the old fashioned way, a bucket and a foul shot. Sonoraville would not lay down, however, and used an 8-4 run to close to 30-26 at halftime.
The Lady Phoenix fought back in the third quarter with a 14-5 run and led 40-35 at the 5:15 mark. Cartersville finished the quarter with an 11-10 run to trail 50-46 after three full periods of play.
Cartersville used a 10-6 run in the final period to tie the game up at 56-all, all 10 of its points coming at the hands of Irby.
Sonoraville moved into the lead with a basket but Monica Motuba answered and Irby gave the Lady Canes a 60-58 lead with 1:10 remaining in the game. Maya Jones added a bucket 10 seconds later and Irby closed Cartersville’s scoring with a bucket followed by two free throws.
Sonoraville added a bucket to close out its scoring as well.
Cartersville’s rebounding was huge on the evening as the Lady Canes grabbed 27 to 25 for Sonoraville.
“We knew we couldn’t give them second-chance points,” Moore said. “When they did miss they didn’t get a chance to put it back.”
She said Cartersville’s depth also was a factor.
Moore said the win is a good way for the team to start region play.
“It’s a tremendous feeling after playing them last year and ... [getting] pounded three times. That was such a great feeling, not just to get a win but to get a win against a team that so totally dominated you last year. I think it sets the tone for, hopefully, a good rest of the season.
“You can’t take anything away from Sonoraville because they obviously have a very good program but tonight it’s all Cartersville.”
Cartersville improved to 4-1 with the victory. The Lady Canes next play Adairsville on Friday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.