They added up to well below the 41 normally tallied by the Lady Mountaineers’ scoring machine after it ran into the defensive buzz saw otherwise known as Cartersville and got flattened, 54-18, in the semifinals of the Region 5-AAA basketball tournament that was being hosted at the Storm Center on Monday night.
The Cartersville victory sets up a 7 p.m. faceoff today against Sonoraville with the winner claiming the top seed for the region and the possibility of hosting two state playoff games.
“Obviously defensively you can’t ask for anything better,” head coach Cindy Moore said. “We challenged our girls. We knew North Murray would try to go inside and we did a great job on the post. Then again we didn’t give up the outside stuff. I couldn’t be more pleased defensively. Offensively we had some great moments, too.”
North Murray scored the game’s first bucket and added a second to take a 4-0 lead on the night, but Cartersville answered with a trey from Kaelyn Irby and then a bucket by Morgan Jones, who scored a team high 12 points all evening. The points gave Cartersville its first lead, 5-4. Jones tacked on a free throw and Kimora McClinic bought some breathing room when she buried a 2-pointer that produced an 8-4 lead. North Murray answered with a bucket, to close to 8-6, but then Hallie Wachsmuth got in the scoring act a possession later when Irby stole the ball and found her shooting guard alone under the basket for a 10-6 lead.
Jones’ second basket widened Cartersville’s lead to 12-6 and Madison McKinney capped scoring for Cartersville in the first quarter with the home team leading 14-6.
Cartersville took charge in the second quarter by exploding for five quick points — three by Wachsmuth and two by McClinic — that yielded a 19-6 lead.
North Murray answered with their only bucket of the second quarter and trailed 19-8 at the 6:18 point of the frame.
Jones responded to the score with the ultimate second-chance shot as the center missed a jumper from near the foul line but then got her own rebound just to the right of the goal and used her soft touch against the backboard to produce a 21-8 lead. Cartersville went on a 9-0 run the rest of the frame — five of those points by Irby, two by Jones and a deuce by McKinney — to walk off the halftime court holding a 30-8 lead.
North Murray was a frigid 1-of-9 in shooting from the floor in the frame. Its first three possessions ended in turnovers.
Cartersville used a 14-4 run in the third quarter to grab a 44-12 lead, then outscored the Lady Mountaineers 10-6 in the final period to put a period on its dominating period.
Moore said Cartersville was glad to get the victory after missing practice and games due to the recent snow and ice storm.
“When you’ve been off 10 days, you’ll take a win, especially to get you in the region championship,” Moore said. “We did a lot of good things. Our points were spread out. I think everybody contributed that was on the floor. I thought the effort was there. A few times we looked a little rusty but overall I am pleased.”
She said Cartersville’s board work, as always, was important. “I know we outrebounded them pretty handily, which has been our signature all year. We have to do that, especially going into a game with Sonoraville. We are obviously right there neck and neck with them, and it’s going to come down to who’s going to win the battle of the boards. I really believe that’s going to be huge.”
Moore said although Cartersville won, it didn’t have a complete offensive performance.
“We’ve got so many weapons. We didn’t even shoot the ball well from the outside,” she said. “To be able to score like that in transition and get the ball inside was key. We knew we needed some high percentage shots since we hadn’t played in a while.
“Obviously [we now have] a great chance to win the region championship in front of our home crowd. These seniors have been waiting for that. We’ve got ourselves in a position so we need to take of business.”
Among those scoring for Cartersville were Irby, 9 points; Rachel Christina, 8; Wachsmuth, 7; McClinic, 6.
Cartersville improved to 22-3 with the victory. The last time the Lady Canes and North Murray played was Feb. 7. Cartersville won that game, 68-45. It defeated North Murray 61-38 on Jan. 14.
The Lady Canes are 2-0 against Sonoraville this year but few points have separated the two. Cartersville beat Sonoraville in their first game, 66-60, on Dec. 10; and defeated the Lady Phoenix, 66-64, at Sonoraville on Jan. 21.