Cartersville girls basketball draws one win away from state

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It wasn’t easy, but the Cartersville girls basketball team survived Monday’s first-round region tournament game and are now one win away from the state playoffs.

Cartersville’s Monica Motuba scored with roughly 25 seconds remaining in a tie ballgame to eventually push the Lady Canes ahead by a final score of 54-43 against Ridgeland at Southeast Whitfield.

Cartersville will face Heritage, Catoosa back at Southeast Whitfield High Wednesday at 7 p.m. with a state playoff berth on the line.

“Honestly, you’re happy with any win this time of year. It was just a battle the whole game. I think the biggest lead may have been five points,” Cartersville head coach Cindy Moore said of the game. “The kids are excited. We tell them everybody started the tournament 0-0. So anything can happen. Hopefully, we’ll have a good game plan before we play Heritage Wednesday. We’re excited about the chance to play another day.”

Motuba hit the big shot and finished with six points, while Kimora McClinic had 16, including 10 in the second half and eight in the fourth quarter. Madison McKinney added 11 points and Addie Smith scored nine for the Lady Canes.

Moore said her team’s defense was able to key in on a couple of Ridgeland’s top scorers to limit the Lady Panthers in the second half.

“They had two players score 21 of their 25 in the first half,” Moore said. “We did a better job the second half of not leaving those two open.”

Cartersville could have won by a larger margin but missed 18 of the team’s 34 free throw attempts.

“That’s the thing where you can’t extend your lead and get a comfort zone,” Moore said of the missed free throws. “We had opportunities and we couldn’t complete the play.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Cartersville lost the previous two matchups this season with Heritage by a combined 11 points. Heritage entered the region tournament as a No. 3 seed with an 11-3 record in Region 7-AAAA.

“It was a good team win. Everybody contributed in different ways,” Moore said of Monday’s game. “Of course, this time of year, it’s survive and move on. So, even though we’ve struggled with wins this year, we’re one win away from making the state tournament. Anything can happen. We’re excited to get to play again.”