After winning the Conference 24 Tournament for the second straight season and advancing to the state tournament again in 2017, Carroll County’s girls’ basketball team has swept the All-Conference 24 awards.
Senior point guard Mattie Kennedy has been honored as Conference 24 Player of the Year, while Carroll County head coach Marc Motley has been tabbed as the conference’s coach of the year after a 22-4 season. Additionally, Keely Lundy, Mariah Carter and Madi Dalton earned all-conference honors.
Also a first-team All-Region 4A West selection, Kennedy pulled a rare feat for a point guard, leading the team in both assists (4.7 per game) and rebounds (7.4 per game). She also was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.7 points per game. Kennedy shot a team-best 77 percent on free throws and she was third on the club in steals (2.2 per game) and 3-point shooting (32 percent).
“Mattie does a lot of things for us. She is a tremendous rebounder, which may be her strongest suit. Her points were down a bit, but her assists were up, which probably helped our team,” Motley said. “The ball is in her hands a lot and she has a tendency to make plays. Being a point guard you are going to dominate the basketball a lot anyway.”
Motley said Kennedy took more shots than any other Cavalier in 2017, a byproduct of her aggressiveness driving to the basket. That trait led to a ton of free throws for Kennedy and open shots for teammates.
“She shot 161 free throws this year. Her being aggressive got her to free throw line and 124 of her 331 points came from the free throw line. So you figure over a fourth of her points are coming from the free throw line,” Motley said. “If she is able to get two feet in the lane, other kids have a tendency to get open. We benefit from that a lot.”
Also a senior, Lundy has been named first-team All-Conference 24 and second-team All-Region 4A West. Lundy also had the ability to do everything for the Lady Cavs as she led the team in scoring with a career-high 13.4 points per game, while finishing second on the squad in rebounding (4.7 per contest) and assists (3.2 per game). Lundy also led the team in steals with 2.5 per game and broke her own school record with 74 3-pointers for the season. She also shot a team-best 39 percent from 3-point range.
“If you are going to shoot 39 percent from 3-point line you can shoot anytime you want. That translates to about 60 percent from two-point range in efficiency,” Motley said. “We ran a lot of stuff for her because she is such a tremendous shooter. We have had some really good shooters here, but she would either be my best or close to it. And she does more for us than just shoot. She’s a team leader. The kids rally around her quite a bit. She does a lot of things but does it quietly, doesn’t get excited. She also does a lot of things people don’t see about her. She brings more to the table than just score the ball \, and the average fan doesn’t see that. She brings it 110 percent every day in practice.”
A pair of underclassmen, Carter and Dalton were honored as second-team All-Region 4A West selections. A junior guard, Carter can be an explosive scorer and she finished third on the team with 8.3 points per game and third in rebounding with 4 per contest. Carter also led the Cavaliers in field goal percentage at 43 percent.
“She doesn’t dominate by bringing the ball up the court, but she finishes so well in transition. She can make a 16-foot jump shot and she gets to foul line a lot. She was second on the team in free throw attempts, so she gets to the line and does things that, puts the ball in the hole when she gets the opportunity,” Motley said “And she makes the most of her opportunities. She is a difficult kid for people to guard because she is extremely athletic and she is unorthodox in how she scores.”
Just a sophomore, Madi Dalton continues to impress with her defense and toughness. Also a talented all-around player, Dalton was fourth on the Lady Cavaliers in scoring with 6.4 points per game. She was just one steal behind Lundy for the team lead in steals with 2.5 per game. Dalton also collected 3.3 rebounds per game and shot 70 percent from the charity stripe.
“She always seems to draw the toughest guard assignment. She wasn’t going to guard a big kid, but she’s our best on-ball defender in my mind. She always drew the toughest guard matchup,” Motley said. “The thing about Madi is she has a great, great motor. I mean she is absolutely non-stop. You know she will leave it all on the line every time she walks on the floor. Whether she makes shots or misses shots, it isn’t going to be for lack of effort and those kids are very valuable for any team.”
Senior Jade Holt earned honorable mention all-conference honors with her play in the post. A four-year varsity player for Carroll, Motley said Holt always seemed to be at her best late in the season.
“She’s been with us for four years and she’s a kid that has excelled in the second half of the season every year. She always has a tendency to start slow, but always excels at end of year. She had four or five double-figure games and every one of them was from the last day of January on,” Motley said. “She didn’t have over 6 points per game through mid-January. Of course her time increased and she ended up as our fifth leading-scorer with 5.4 per game and 3.7 rebounds per game.”
Holt also finished third on the team in free throw percentage at 68 percent. While Carroll went with a small lineup much of the season, Holt’s presence down low proved to be very valuable during the Cavaliers’ deep postseason run.
“She’s just a kid that didn’t want it to end. She wanted to play tough toward the end of season and she always seemed to come up big the last half of the season for us,” Motley said. “We played the first 20 games of year without a true post player, but then you get in the playoffs and you have to play teams with post players, which changed our lineup. We had to have Jade in the game because of the way she was playing and because we were playing big kids. She stepped up to the task. She was a kid that could play with her back to basket and she had matchups that suited her in the playoffs.”
As for his second consecutive Conference 24 Coach of the Year award, Motley said the players deserve all the credit.
“The guy who gets it is the guy who wins it. I don’t go out there and play, I just watch my kids play,” Motley said. “I wouldn’t get that if it wasn’t for these kids that play so hard and so tough when they get on the floor.”
Lundy will be playing basketball next season for Concord University, while Kennedy will suit up for Presbyterian College next year. Holt and Megan Garland also will be lost to graduation, but Motley feels like the Cavaliers will continue to play well without those mainstays.
“We’re definitely not going to replace Keely and Mattie and we are not going to replace Jade and Megan, either. But I feel like we have a really good young group of players that can make their own team and excel, maybe not exactly like them, but I am very excited about the kids I have coming back,” Motley said. “For once, we will have the ability to fly under the radar a little bit.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]