Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
Most of Kentucky’s high school basketball teams have established individuality at this point in the season and are looking for a sturdy finish to earn a favorable draw in the close approaching district tournament.
The 62nd District results from Thursday had a big impact on those efforts, as Morgan County pulled off a boy’s hoops stunner against East Carter, and the Lady Comets also narrowly upset the Lady Raiders.
In a back-and-forth battle of district foes, the West Carter Lady Comets defended their home-court and picked up a narrow 55-44 victory over the East Carter Lady Raiders.
The Lady Comets honored three seniors, Camryn Burton, Amelia “Millie” Henderson, and Emma Balavoine prior to tip-off.
In a turnover riddled first quarter, the teams battled the first eight minutes of play with East Carter holding a one-point advantage, 11-10.
Madelyn Moore opened the second frame with a triple at the top of the arc to give the Lady Raiders a four-point lead.
Holly Brown responded with a mid-range jumper on the other end.
Jaci Cooley cut the lead back down to one with a deuce from the left wing, bringing the score to 18-17.
Henderson tied the game 20-all at the 2:01 mark.
Avery Hall’s second triple of the frame sent the teams into intermission with East Carter holding a slim 28-22 lead as they headed into the locker room at halftime.
After passing the halfway mark MaKenna Nichols pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled on the return; she opened the third frame by connecting 2-2 at the charity stripe.
Kaylee Kinney attacked the rim, drawing a foul and converted the and-one to spark a 7-0 Lady Comet run.
The possession trimmed East Carters lead to one, 28-27.
West Carter’s defense fully asserted control of the contest with back-to-back stops and buckets by Kinney and Emily Barker.
The run left the Lady Raiders scrambling to recompose their offense but opened things up for the Lady Comets to capture a four-point lead.
Burton ripped the net from deep to close out the third frame, increasing West Carter’s lead to eight heading into the final stanza, 39-31.
The Lady Comets defense limited the Lady Raiders to three points in the third frame.
Lady Comet Coach Faith Conn noted that her squad’s offensive success in the third quarter was a scenario they have been practicing frequently.
“We do a great job getting to the paint and doing back door cuts. In the third quarter, that extra pass to get an easy look is something we have been working on in practice,” she said.
Henderson made a contested shot to start the fourth frame.
On the next possession, Kinsley Rutledge was fouled and shot 2-2 at the charity stripe, 41-33.
Rutledge trimmed the gap to five at the 4:55 mark with a mid-range jumper, 43-38.
An immediate answer by the Lady Comets prevented the Lady Raiders from closing things further.
A critical turnover by East Carter at the 2:15 mark allowed Henderson to capitalize on a layup, 49-38.
West Carter’s strong ball security in the second half allowed them to find more offensive flow and with each bucket the Lady Comets got, East Carter was unable to find an answer.
Alluding to his team’s third quarter scoring drought, Lady Raider’s Coach Matthew Clark said his youthful team lacks confidence.
“We settle so to speak. We have a habit where we just want to stop at the three-point line and wait for someone else to do something. Everybody has an opportunity to get the basketball,” he said.
“We have to do a better job as a whole to be more confident. Our youth is really showing and that’s where we are now,” he continued.
Both teams, in classic rivalry action, were in bonus with 1:27 remaining in the final stanza.
Free throws were key down the stretch. West Carter shot the ball well from the charity stripe making 13 of their 18 free throws.
Seniors Henderson and Burton led the Lady Comets in scoring collecting 10 and 12 points respectively.
Although the rivalry games between these two teams are always vibrant affairs, the stakes of this game truly made it an extraordinary event as it was a deciding factor in second place district seeding.
The Lady Comets improved to 4-19 for the season and the Lady Raiders fell to 8-14.
Conn said there is no time for rest as the Lady Comets returned to the hardwood on Saturday to host district rival Elliott County.
“We are back in the gym tomorrow because we play Elliott on Saturday, they are great one on one players. I will be watching film to adjust some things we did tonight,” said Conn.
She added, “Saturday will be a great opportunity for us to get better defensively.”
West Carter 10 12 17 16 – 55
East Carter 11 17 3 13 – 44
West Carter (55) – Henderson 12, Burton 10, Barker 8, Nichols 8, Kinney 7, Cooley 5, Brown 5. FG Pct. 42.2. FT Pct: 72.2. 3-Pt. FG: 4-8 (Cooley 1-1, Brown 1-1, Burton 2-6). Fouled out: None. Turnovers:
East Carter (44) – Stats were not available at time of reporting. Rutledge, Hall, Bush, Bishop, Boggs, Tussey, Moore. FG Pct. FT Pct. 3-Pt FG: Fouled out: None. Turnovers: