The upset alarm was ringing during the Carrollton High School girls’ basketball team’s round-one Region 7-AAAAA tournament matchup with Paulding County on Tuesday.
Ultimately, the second-seeded Lady Trojans were able to survive and advance with a 48-37 victory on their home floor.
Staying aggressive and forcing several steals on defense, Carrollton (20-6) managed to maintain possession for a good portion of the first quarter. However, the inability to finish numerous shots at the rim left them clinging on to a 10-7 lead at the end of the period.
The underdog seventh-seeded Lady Patriots (4-21) kept pace with the Lady Trojans in the second, brushing off an 8-1 run by the home ballclub with a quick 5-0 run of their own to inch their way back into the game. A streak of easy layups and free throws by forward Janiyah Dorsey allowed PC to enter the half only trailing 23-22.
Turnovers and an elongated offensive slump plagued CHS throughout the third, briefly falling behind before a Kehinde Obasuyi three put them back on top. A pair of Lady Patriot free throws within the final minute left the game tied at 32-all heading into the final quarter.
The fourth is where home squad finally hit the gas, with a Rachel Herrera trey and a successful ‘And 1’ sequence from Kelsie Thomas giving them some breathing room. Shortly afterwards, sophomore guard De’Mauri Flournoy found Shamari Vaughn in the corner for three to push the Lady Trojans’ fourth quarter run out to 10.
Carrollton clung onto the late lead to officially clinch themselves a spot in the Class AAAAA state playoffs and advance in the region tournament.
Flournoy finished as CHS’ top scorer with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. The senior Thomas followed that up with eight points and six boards of her own.
“The first thing I want to say is hats off to Paulding County. Everybody probably counted them out before they even got off the bus to come into this gym,” Carrollton head coach Shon Thomaston said. “They came in here believing in themselves and they gave a great fight and a great effort. It’s almost a shame that they had to lose, but we’re glad they did.”
The veteran head coach was far from satisfied with his team’s effort but was happy they pulled out the victory.
“We gave a very lackluster performance and didn’t play very well (Tuesday). We tried a different combination of players, different defenses and it was like almost everything we tried backfired. But I think that’s a testament to Paulding County playing a lot harder than we did. They also played a little bit smarter and I think their coach outcoached me today,” Thomaston said. “There were a lot of different factors to us struggling to put them away but at the same time, this time of the year is called ‘survive and advance’ and we were able to do that.”
Carrollton will next face third-seeded Cass in the tournament semifinals on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Villa Rica High School. The Lady Colonels knocked off Kell 49-35 on Tuesday to advance.
Coach Thomaston glossed over what his team has to clean up heading into Thursday.
“They’re a good team that almost gave us a loss when we went up there about three weeks ago, so we’ve got to be better,” Thomaston said. “Turnovers are hurting us, we’re committing unnecessary fouls at times and overall, it’s effort. I felt (Tuesday) we didn’t give a good effort at all and just went through the motions. Our effort just has to be better and if our effort’s better, some of those other things will fix themselves.”