BY KENYATA HENDRIX
Survive and advance. That’s the goal at this point of the season, and the Carrollton High School girls’ basketball team did just that Friday night on Criswell Court.
No. 2 Carrollton hosted No. 3 Columbia in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs, where it held a six-point lead at the half at 13-7 in the defensive struggle, but managed to stretch it out sealing a 40-22 triumph to move on to the sweet 16.
Coming out of the half, the Lady Eagles found a way to close the gap. With under five minutes left in the third quarter, Columbia found itself trailing by only 3 points. Carrollton found a rhythm following a 3-pointer from Eghosa Obasuyi and a 30-second timeout called by head coach Shon Thomaston with 4:13 on the clock.
Out of the huddle, De’Mauri Flournoy sunk a trey ball followed by an assist from Obasuyi to JeNee Edwards for two. The Lady Trojans continued to stretch the lead and headed into the fourth quarter of action with a 12-point advantage leading 28-16.
The Lady Trojans outscored Columbia by a 12-6 margin in the final eight minutes to the clinch the first-round victory.
The Lady Trojans went from scoring only 13 points in the first half to scoring 27 in the second. For Thomaston, it wasn’t about what they did. Rather, it feels as though it was the Lady Eagles who changed to lead to the outcome of the game.
“I felt like, I’m going to be honest with you, I thought what changed was Columbia. I thought the way we defended them in the first half, from their perspective, was disheartening for them because they didn’t have a whole lot of success running offense or getting good looks at the basket or whatever,” Thomaston said.
“I just thought that the defensive game plan that we had in the first half continued in the second half, and after a while you can’t score because it’s so tough. You know, you get frustrated. And I thought we came out and we scored early in the third quarter and we took a six-point lead and that six-point lead kind of ballooned. We knew once it hit double digits that they might start to panic, and force stuff and lose their composer a little bit.”
Thomaston said that his club’s ability to keep its defense honest and constant was the reason it was able to pull out the win Friday night.
Flournoy led the Lady Trojans with 20 points on the night. Obasuyi added eight points, and Kanija Daniel and JeNee Edwards both collected six points each.
Carollton will travel to face top-seeded Harris County in the second round next week in Hamilton after the Lady Tigers knocked off Fayette County in the first round on Friday.
The Lady Trojans beat Columbia Friday night 40-22 to advance to the second round of state playoffs. Photos by Glenn Holmes.