Nick Simon/ Times-Georgian
The Carrollton High School girls' basketball team was able to put a trophy in its stocking just in time for Christmas by using a 12-0 run to start the second half and take control of what had been a tight game.
Battling Valdosta on Saturday night in the championship game of the Carrollton Christmas Tournament, the host Lady Trojans were able to tame the Lady Wildcats in a 69-59 victory.
Coming out victorious once again in his own tourney, Carrollton head coach Shon Thomaston was proud of how his players were able to hold off their title game foes from south Georgia.
“It was a total team effort all across the board,” Thomaston said. “Every time that team made a run, we found a way to cut off.”
The early momentum in the championship bout went toward the way of the Lady Trojans (7-2) with the home team starting the game on a 9-2 run. Seniors Ansley Barge and Erial Daniel provided eight points apiece as Carrollton ended the first quarter up 20-10.
Valdosta, however, closed the gap in the second quarter, slowing down Carrollton’s offense and forcing turnovers with its three-quarter press defense. The Lady Trojans ended up carrying a slim 32-28 advantage into the half.
Carrollton put its foot on the gas immediately, coming out of the locker room with De’mauri Flournoy and Elexus Bell leading Lady Trojans on a 12-0 run to start the third. They would take a 54-34 lead into the fourth with the ballgame seemingly under control.
But Valdosta wasn’t going to give up. The Lady Cats opened the final frame with a 13-2 run that put pressure on the suddenly sputtering Carrollton offense. That’s when the forward Daniel came up big with multiple layups down low to maintain the Lady Trojans’ distance.
Valdosta was forced to start fouling where the freshman Flournoy drained numerous free throws to put the game on ice and send her team out as tournament champions.
Absent from the contest for Carrollton was senior lead scorer Taylor Brown, who suffered an injury during Friday’s semifinal versus Locust Grove. That forced Thomaston to switch some things up with his lineup.
“We had to make adjustments because we lost Taylor Brown to an injury that we’re hoping that we can get her back from from before too long,” Thomaston said. “With her being out, I had to ask some kids to do some things that they normally don’t do. Asha McKinley had to come in and play some extended minutes which is a good thing for down the road.”
Leading for Carrollton was Daniel with 19 points and five steals. Also coming through with 19 was the newcomer Flournoy, who was commended by Thomaston for her clutch free throw shooting late.
“She’s still in the maturation process and trying to grow up a little bit. She’s a phenomenal player and a great kid who’s still learning the varsity game,” Thomaston said. “She turned the ball over several times early but came through in the fourth quarter with all of those free throws against a really good basketball team.”
Carrollton will enjoy the Christmas holiday before battling nationally ranked opponents in Virginia for the Boo Williams Classic. For now, Thomaston is happy with where his team currently sits at this point of the season.
“It’s always good to go into Christmas with a ‘W’,” Thomaston said. “We have another big tournament this week in Hampton, Virginia, and it’s good to go into that tournament coming off a championship in our own tournament. We’re just looking to continue to improve as a team and carry momentum into the new year.”