By Jordan Miller
CARROLLTON – Entering game one, the Carrollton Lady Warriors weren’t quite sure what to expect on the court with having to use a few girls with no varsity experience. Starting junior guard Angela Starre was ruled out for the year during the pre-season after suffering an ACL injury during fall soccer.
Despite the inexperienced players, the Warriors were able to hold on to a 35-32 win over the Cambridge Bobcats in their season opener at home Nov. 30.
It was clear; the Lady Warriors hadn’t found their identity in the opening quarter as they were outscored 7-2.
Mikayla Poole, who had scored Carrollton’s two points in the first quarter, went on a run of her own to get the Lady Warriors back in the game in the second quarter, scoring nine of her 14 points in the period.
Poole sank a shot from beyond the arc and snatched a pass and raced down the court for a fast-break layup to tie the game at seven points.
The Bobcats took an 11-7 lead, forcing Carrollton to play catch-up once again.
Poole hit a floater and was fouled on another attempt. Making one free throw attempt, the Lady Warriors trailed 11-10.
Carrollton junior Maysie Rogers drove the baseline and drew a foul while making the basket. Rogers didn’t convert the and-one opportunity but she gave her team a 12-11 lead.
Cambridge went on a 4-0 run to take a 15-12 advantage. Carrollton Head Coach Craig Rodgers called a timeout with 1:34 remaining in the first half to slow the momentum of their opponent.
Junior Kierra Gubesch put herself in a situation to tie the game before the half after being fouled while making a shot off the glass. The free-throw attempt was off point and Carrollton trailed 15-14.
Cambridge’s Alyssa Ball made a foul shot to give the Bobcats a 16-14 lead at the half.
Whatever was said during halftime to the Lady Warriors flipped a switch in the players.
Rogers stole a pass and went down the court to score to start the second half, putting her team up 17-16. On the next Warriors possession, Poole drew a trip to the line, making one attempt, extending Carrollton’s lead to 18-16.
Rogers dished the ball to sophomore post Zoe Drake in the paint, who scored her first pair of points of the season. Rogers sank a deep jumper and junior Jaci Pridemore got on the board with a hook shot in the third quarter.
Rogers drew a foul at the end of the third quarter. She made both shots, giving her team a 26-21 lead entering the final frame.
Rogers hit her first three-pointer of the game to begin the fourth quarter. Pridemore grabbed a board and went up strong for a pair of second chance points.
Poole tacked on two points with a layup and after being fouled on another play, she sank a pair of free throws to give Carrollton a 35-29 lead.
Lilly Ritz hit a three for Cambridge to pull them within three with fewer than two minutes left in the contest.
The Lady Warriors were able to fend off the Bobcats comeback attempt and start their season on a winning note.
“First thing we told them (during half time), is that as bad as we’ve played, we’re only down by one,” said Coach Rodgers following Carrollton’s win. “I have a lot of players who have no varsity experience, so to put them out there and expect them to play with poise and confidence, I’m asking a lot out of them.”
“We just tried to stay positive and focus on what we were doing right,” Rodgers said. “They’re great listeners. We tell them what they need to do and they go out and do it.”
Coach Rodgers said there needs to be some cleaning up before entering league play.
“We have to clean up…especially when we get into the league if we want to be competitive,” he said. “I’m happy with a win, it’s good for those girls who don’t have that experience.”
Rodgers says losing Starre is a huge loss to the team.
“Losing her is huge, she takes a lot of pressure off of Cailee (Husted) and Mikayla (Poole), ball handling wise. She’s a four who has some point guard possibilities,” mentioned Rodgers.
“She definitely means a lot to those two girls. She’s a leader, a quiet leader. She leads by example, so we missed that.”
Rodgers said she is serving the team on the bench as a players-coach.
“Tonight she played a huge role on our bench, talking to our assistants and talking to our players when they came out. That’s going to help us but it’s going to hurt us in some games, not having her leadership in there. It’s definitely a huge blow. We were coming into the season with four solid starters.”
The girls team will travel to Salem Dec. 10 with a 1:30 p.m. tipoff.