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HILLSVILLE -- Once again, Carroll County found itself in the middle of a physical, low-scoring dogfight with Graham. Once again, the team couldn’t buy a free throw. And once again, it was foul shooting that helped put the Cavaliers over the top. Trailing Graham 33-30 with less than four minutes to go, and having hit just one of its previous 10 from the foul line, Carroll County was 6-for-6 from the stripe in the final 3:34 during a 10-3 run that lifted the Cavaliers to a key 40-36 Southwest District win Wednesday over the G-Girls. “Looking at the free throws, we were 10-for-21, but we were 6-for-8 in the fourth quarter,” said Cavalier coach Marc Motley. “But we haven’t shot free throws well all year.” In the two teams’ previous meeting, in last year’s SWD tournament final, the Cavaliers had gone 3-of-16 from the line before two free throws in the waning seconds made the difference in a two-point win. A previous one-point win came via two free throws with 10 ticks left in the second overtime. Both were low-scoring, bruising affairs, as was this one. “This was the most physical game I’ve ever been involved in,” said Motley. “We had to play through the contact, but so did they. [The officials] let us get away with hammering them, and they let them get away with hammering us.” Despite the contact, Carroll County (8-2 overall, 3-0 district) entered the fourth quarter with just one team foul, which allowed the Cavaliers to be more aggressive defensively. That added intensity helped hold defending Region IV, Division 3 runner-up Graham (5-3, 1-1) to just two field goals in the final six minutes, one being a meaningless 3-pointer to close the game. Graham was just 4-of-14 from the floor in the final quarter, with seven turnovers. “You can’t always get the ball to go in the hole, but if you can play defense you’re going to be in the game,” said Motley, whose team hadn’t played in two weeks. It was a foul shot from Kayla Goins that had Carroll on top 28-18 with 4:48 left in the third, but over the next eight minutes the Cavs went 1-for-8 from the floor, 0-for-7 from the foul line and committed seven turnovers as Graham strung together a 15-2 run. The G-Girls tied the game at 30 on Meagan Henry’s putback and took a 33-30 lead on Ashley Simpson’s 3-pointer with 4:51 to go. Goins sank two foul shots, and her driving bucket put Carroll on top to stay, 34-33, with 3:19 left. Maleah Neely and Kaitlan Viars each hit two free throws in the final 2:51 for Carroll. The Cavaliers had taken a 21-18 lead into the half, and layups by Rachel Dalton and Lindsey Martin, plus a Dalton jumper from the wing, helped the Cavaliers open the second half on a 7-0 run before the G-Girls began their comeback. Chelsea Gallinger led Graham with 12 points, eight in the first quarter, and Kelli Landreth added 11. Goins paced the Cavaliers with 16, Dalton tossed in 11 and Neely chipped in with eight rebounds and solid defense on Meagan Henry. Neely, Viars, Shyann Dalton and Sally Ann Edwards teamed up to hold the Graham center to just four points. Graham................12 6 8 10––36 Carroll County......15 6 9 10––40
Graham (5-3, 1-1) Landreth 5 0-1 11, Simpson 2 0-0 5, Lampert 1 0-0 2, Gallinger 5 1-3 12, Henry 2 0-0 4, Gillespie 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 1-4 36. Carroll County (8-2, 3-0) Goins 6 4-7 16, R.Dalton 4 2-5 11, Neely 0 2-4 2, Cornell 2 0-0 4, Dickens 0 0-1 0, Martin 2 0-0 5, Viars 0 2-4 2. Totals 14 10-21 40.
Three-point field goals – Graham 3-12 (Landreth, Simpson, Gallinger), Carroll County 2-8 (R.Dalton, Martin). Rebounds – Graham 39 (Landreth, Lampert 7), Carroll County 34 (Neely 8). Turnovers – Graham 23, Carroll County 20. Team fouls – Graham 16, Carroll County 11. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.
JV – Carroll County 21-17.