Carlynton girls basketball hopes to learn from first loss of the season
That is all that separated Carlynton girls basketball from being 7-0 and 6-1.
But the Cougars felt the sting of some late-game heroics by Ringgold as they fell to the Rams, 42-41, last week.
“We made a lot of mistakes that we won't moving on,” Carlynton coach Tim Bonner said. “We played like we were behind by 10. When you are up, you need to play like you are up and not jacking up threes all over the place.”
After grabbing a 13-9 lead in the first quarter, the Cougars' offense came out in the second and connected on five 3-pointers – three from junior guard Connor Richardson – to go into the break with a 32-20 lead.
But as hot as it was in the first half, Carlynton was just as cold in the second. The Rams outscored the Cougars, 10-2, in the third frame with the only Carlynton points coming from Richardson on two free-throw attempts.
“We just couldn't make any shots,” Bonner said. “We also threw the ball away. We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes. We relied on the outside shot, which was OK in the first half because we were hitting everything. In the second, we couldn't hit anything.”
The Ringgold rally continued into the final frame as it would take the lead and hold a 40-38 advantage entering the final seconds.
Carlynton would push down the floor after a missed Rams free-throw and Richardson hit a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a one-point lead with nine seconds to go. Ringgold would call two timeouts to set up a play.
The Cougars defense held strong on the final Rams possession but Kara Foster was able to break free and put in a layup with two seconds to go to give her squad a 42-41 win.
“I thought we had them guarded pretty well,” Bonner said. “We defended against their first set but their player scrambled and beat one of our girls.”
Richardson led all scorers with 23 points – including seven 3-pointers. Bailey Cooper led Ringgold with 17 points.
Bonner said the team appeared to be intimidated by 6-foot-6 Rams junior center Marlena Schmidt, limiting Carlynton's ability to score in the paint.
The Cougars were missing senior Hannah Murray, who suffered a lower body injury in practice.
“That hurt,” Bonner said. “She fell down in practice and suffered the injury. We're not sure of the extent of the injury but we are expecting her to be back.”
The game was a nonsection showdown, so the Cougars goal of a Section 6-AA title was not affected. Carlynton is 3-0 in the standings with wins over three of the section's top four teams – Avonworth, Beaver and Our Lady of Sacred Heart.
The Bobcats are close behind with a 2-1 record while the Antelopes and Chargers are tied for third at 1-1 with Freedom.
The Cougars hit the road last weekend and played a pair of games at the Summit Country Day Tournament in Cincinnati against squads from Ohio. In game one, Carlynton defeated Westerville Central, 44-40, behind Richardson's 16 points and senior Jazmyn Meredith's 10.
But in their second game of the tournament, the Cougars felt the string of another late-game basket as the Bobcats walked away with a 38-36 win.
The ultimate goal of the trip west was to bring the Cougars together. Bonner would like to see the team become even closer as Carlynton jumps back into section play next week as it seeks its first section crown since 2004-05.
“We really like the idea of getting the team together to bond,” Bonner said. “We like to see the team as one family. We are excited to get the kids on the road for a couple of days for the overall experience.”
Carlynton will return to action tonight, Thursday, as it travels to Northgate. Tip is set for 7 p.m.