Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
The best games come down to the wire.
Friday night’s girls basketball matchup between West Carter (2-13) and Martin County (12-3) fit the bill as the tight knit thriller was determined by one point.
There was nothing modest or undersized about the Lady Comets determination to win. It was clear when Senior Amelia Henderson opened the first frame with back-to-back baskets that the girls of Olive Hill came prepared to play.
West Carter Coach Faith Conn said, “The effort given tonight is something I’ve been asking for all year. To see them make decisions and changes in the game is very encouraging for these next few weeks.”
The low scoring first quarter was faltered by turnovers, combining for just 17 points as West Carter led 9-8 through the first eight minutes of play.
“Turnovers are something we’ve talked about since the beginning of the season and our goal is to definitely lower that number. We haven’t quite gotten there yet, but we are making smarter decisions,” Conn said.
To open the second half, Henderson converted a three-point play.
She finished the night with 25 points, ten of which came from free throws.
Her free throws would become invaluable in the nail-biting latter half of the game.
Key underclassmen Makenna Nichols, Holly Adams, Kaylee Kinney, and Kenlee Nolen stepped up and made big plays to contribute to the Lady Comet’s success.
The four boasted three points or more respectively.
An offensive foul on Martin County’s Katie Marcum with 29.7 seconds left in the second was just enough time to give West one more shot before heading into intermission.
Nichols nabbed an offensive rebound and returned it strong giving West Carter their largest lead of the game 24-16 with 12 seconds remaining in the second stanza.
Martin County opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run, Marcum knotted the game upon executing a three-point play 25-22.
On the ensuing possession, Henderson edged The Lady Comets back to a one-point lead.
Henderson continued her offensive attack throughout the third frame, closing out the quarter with a buzzer beater to give her team a 36-31 advantage.
The importance of an offensive rebound is huge and Kinney’s board to open the final stanza was an instant confidence boost for the Lady Comets.
Laken Williams of Martin County chipped away at West’s lead with back-to-back baskets, 38-36 at the 5:09 mark.
Nichols brought the house down with a clean block at 3:03, and West Carter fans erupted.
With 4:30 left to play in the final frame, Martin tied the game 38-38.
The scrappiness of both teams set the tone for the entire game, a string of fouls in the final minutes showed that neither team was going down easily.
Both teams entered bonus around the two-minute mark with Martin holding a slight advantage over West 39-44.
Henderson’s free throws were clutch down the last stretch for the Lady Comets.
At 1:18, she nailed two freebies bringing West back within three points – making it a one possession game (41-44).
However, Henderson wasn’t done quite yet.
She scored back-to-back baskets for West to recapture the lead by one point with 39 seconds left on the clock.
In the final seconds, West Carter turned up its defensive intensity.
A last stitch effort to set up and execute a play by the Cardinals proved unsuccessful as West Carter’s defense left them scrambling.
With the 45-44 victory, the Lady Comets improved to 3-13 for the season.
William’s paced Martin County with 23 points.
Martin County made 30.4% of its field goals, 75.0% of its foul shots and 6.25% of its treys.
West Carter controlled the boards (34-26) and only allowed the Cardinals six second chance points.
Coach Conn said she was really encouraged by her team’s effort after the win.
She noted that they played hard until the final buzzer.
West Carter made 44.1% of its field goals, 65.0% of its foul shots and 40.0% of its treys.
“We performed well from the free throw line tonight and I think that’s probably what won the game for us. If we continue that, our girls will settle in well,” said Coach Conn.
West Carter returns to the floor Tuesday as they travel to Sandy Hook for district action against Elliott County.
West Carter 9 15 12 9 – 45
Martin County 8 8 15 13 – 44
West Carter (45) – Henderson 25, Nichols 8, Brown 5, Nolen 4, Kinney 3 3-Pt. FG: 2 FT: 13/20. Fouls: 20.
Martin County (44) – Williams 23, K. Marcum 11, Allen 5, Molette 3, B. Marcum 2 3-Pt. FG: 1 FT: 15/20. Fouls: 19.
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