"Last year there wasn't a lot of expectations because we were so young and just kind of slipped up on people ... This year there's more expectations -- from us to everybody else," said Cartersville coach Donna Enis following her team's loss in the region championship at Murray County High School. "We set our expectations high. The kids are disappointed. I'm disappointed, too."
"I feel like we had opportunities. We just didn't convert a lot of shots that we should have," she added. "Our expectations are high and we just didn't meet that tonight."
The Lady Canes turned cold in the fourth quarter when the Lady Buccaneers scored 10 points to their 3 to secure the 16-point victory.
Kaelyn Irby and Adrienne Green had 13 points apiece to lead Cartersville, and Terika Mostella (6), Stefanie Will (5) and Jazmine Baldwin (3) scored as well.
In the first quarter, the Lady Canes pushed in front of Allatoona 13-11, but the region's top seed overtook them by halftime, 30-21.
Cartersville turned in its finest quarter of the game right after halftime, scoring 16 points. But, the Lady Bucs matched that total and still led by nine -- 46-37 -- heading into the fourth.
"We never did really follow the game plan the second half," Enis acknowledged. "We felt the pressure tonight, especially the second half. ... We never got in rhythm. That was the pressure.
"The kids really wanted to win, just couldn't get over the hump."
Despite the pressure to win a region championship, the Lady Canes breathed a sigh of relief Friday night when they guaranteed themselves a home game in Round 1 of the state playoffs by beating Gilmer 58-41.
"Last night was one that really had the pressure. Once we [won], the pressure's off because you do get to host," Enis said. "We still get to host."
Cartersville, a No. 2 seed, welcomes Region 8-AAA's third-seeded team, Oconee County, she added -- a game likely to be played Friday. The time is still to be determined.
As deflating as the loss may have been for the Lady Canes, it hopefully served as a lesson, their coach said.
"When you do have a loss, you learn from that loss. You take something out of it," Enis added. "We've got to learn from this loss. ... We had good spots and bad spots. [We] just didn't have enough to pull it out there.
"Allatoona played a great game. They're a good team."