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MARION –– In each of the first two meetings this year between Carroll County and Richlands, the outcome wasn’t decided until the final shot was in the air.
In Monday’s regular season playoff, Carroll County’s last shot never did come down. But then, neither did any of the previous 11.
The Cavaliers were held without a field goal the final 10:22 and were outscored 9-0 the final 3:13 as Richlands won a one-game playoff for the Southwest District regular season girls’ championship at Marion High School.
The Cavaliers will take the No. 2 seed into this week’s SWD tournament and will host Abingdon in Thursday’s semifinal. The impact of the loss will most likely be felt more on the regional level, however. A Carroll win Monday could have wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the Region IV Division 4 tournament, but the Cavaliers may drop as low as No. 4, depending on how well they perform in the SWD tournament.
As was the case in the first two meetings between Carroll and Richlands, scoring was in the mid-30s in the fourth quarter, and was again shaping up to come down to the wire as two Crysta Guynn free throws knotted the score at 33 with 3:46 to go. That would do it for the Cavalier offense, though, as Richlands accounted for the game’s final nine points.
“We didn’t shoot very well,” Carroll coach Marc Motley said. “We got some open looks, but a lot that goes to Richlands. They put pressure on us and made it tough on us to make shots. They did a super job defensively.”
Carroll was just 2-of-19 from the floor after halftime.
The Blue Tornado’s Makenley Davis had attempted a decisive 3-pointer at the buzzer in each of the first two Carroll-Richlands games, one that hit and one that didn’t, but her clinching trey fell through for a 36-33 lead with 3:13 to go on Monday.
Carroll went through a pair of timeouts on its next possession but a charging call gave the ball back to Richlands, and the Tornado hit six straight free throws the final 42 seconds to ice the win.
“We weren’t attacking like I wanted us to, and you get to the point where you gotta attack, and they know that, and they did a good job taking a charge,” said Motley. “But when you make the mistakes we made you can’t expect to beat a good basketball team.”
Cassidy Richardson hit two free throws with 42 seconds left, and though it was just a five-point spread at that point, a two-possession difference seemed nearly insurmountable.
“It was back and forth the whole time,” said Motley. “They hit shots and they made free throws down the stretch, which was something they didn’t do at their place last week.”
Richlands guard Brittney Allen was held without a field goal in Carroll’s win last week, but she more than made up for it in the first quarter, splashing two of her four first-half treys and scoring her team’s first eight points.
“I think I upset her in the first quarter,” said Motley, who had surmised that Allen wouldn’t have another outing like her last one against the Cavaliers. “That’s what good players do. They have a bad night and they come out and make plays the next time out. She’s a heck of a player.”
The Cavaliers’ Megan Alderman nearly matched Allen in the first period with two 3-pointers of her own. Carroll County used an 11-0 run spanning the first and second quarters to pull out to a 19-13 lead on Machala Hash’s triple 5:57 before the half. Richlands battled back into a two-point lead until Taylor Martin’s 3-pointer before the half sent the Cavaliers into the locker room ahead 24-23.
Allen led all scorers with 16 points and Cassidy Richardson added 12 points for Richlands. Martin and Alderman scored nine points apiece for Carroll County.
Carroll County......12 12 5 4––33
Richlands..............13 10 6 13––42
Carroll County (13-9, 6-3)
Alderman 3 0-1 9, Sheek 1 0-0 2, Hash 2 2-4 7, Caldwell 1 0-0 2, Martin 4 0-0 9, Guynn 0 2-2 2, McCann 1 0-0 2, Sellers 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 4-7 33.
Richlands (17-3, 7-2)
Hearl 1 2-2 4, Davis 2 4-5 8, Richardson 5 2-2 12, Allen 5 2-2 16, Compton 0 0-0 0, Alley 0 2-2 2. Totals 13 12-13 42.
Three-point field goals – Carroll County 5-20 (Alderman 3, Hash, Martin), Richlands 5-14 (Allen 4, Davis). Rebounds – Carroll County 28 (Guynn 6), Richlands 30 (Alley 10). Turnovers – Carroll County 12, Richlands 12. Team fouls – Carroll County 16, Richlands 12. Fouled out – Sellers.