It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win that advanced the Carroll County girls into the semifinals of the Conference 24 Tournament.
The Cavaliers, who improved to 19-3, made just 11 field goals and shot just 39 percent, but pulled out a 46-37 win over Salem (15-7), thanks to a great defensive effort. Salem also netted 11 field goals, but shot an even worse 21 percent.
“Defense, that’s what won this game,” said Cavaliers Head Coach Marc Motley. “We defended in the fourth quarter and got to the basket on offense.”
The matchup was a nip-and-tuck affair for most of the night, but a stepped-up defensive effort and a spread offense that opened up the floor allowed the Cavaliers to outscore the Spartans 11-4 over the last three minutes of action.
Keely Lundy gave Carroll a big boost by draining her third 3-pointer of the game with just over two minutes to play for a 38-33 lead. After the two teams exchanged free throws, Lundy grabbed a Spartan miss and hit Haley Turman breaking down court with an outlet pass that resulted in an easy layup. Lundy then came up with a steal and once found Turman streaking down court. This time, Turman got the basket and tacked on a free throw.
Salem did cut Carroll’s lead to 45-37 with 1:10 to play with an old-fashioned three-point play, but Mattie Kennedy finished off the scoring with a free throw with 58 seconds left.
Motley said, although his team didn’t play well for most of the game, Salem had to be credited for a lot of his team’s problems.
“They came in very aggressive, very intense and better prepared than us, and we obliged them by turning it over and missing free throws. But we made it tough on them to score, that’s been our bread and butter all year,” he said.
The Cavaliers hit just 18 of 32 free throws and committed 18 turnovers, while the Spartans were 14 of 20 at the line and committed 14 turnovers. Carroll also finished with a 30-23 rebounding advantage.
Kennedy led the Cavaliers with 16 points and seven rebounds, Lundy finished with 12 points and five boards, and Turman had 10 points and four boards.
Salem 4 158 10 - 37
Carroll10 8 11 17 - 46
Salem – Dishon 1 0-0 2, Foley 3 1-1 7, Miglierese 0 2-4 2, Rich 1 1-2 6, Price 1 0-0 2, Coulling 2 6-8 10, Plympton 0 1-1 2, Dennis 2 3-3 7. 11-51 14-20 37.
Carroll – Alderman 0 4-9 4, Lundy 3 3-4 12, Kennedy 3 8-14 16, Guynn 1 0-0 3, Turman 4 2-3 10, Reece 0 1-2 1. 11-28 18-32 46.
3-pointers- (Salem) Rich; (Carroll) Lundy 3, Kennedy 2, Guynn.
Michael Howlett can be contacted at 276-728-7311 or @MikeEHowlett