For as ugly as Carroll 45, Keller 34 was last Friday, head girls basketball coach Teri Morrison took the glass is half full approach.
Although the Lady Dragons shot just 22 percent for the game, they were steady defensively, controlled the flow and played patiently as Keller shortened the game by using a deliberate passing approach.
The Lady Dragons (18-4, 5-0 in District 4-5A) began the week in sole possession of first place. Carroll played at Keller Fossil Ridge on Tuesday and plays host to Haltom on Friday. The Lady Dragons are closing in another 20-win season.
“We got a lot of open shots but missed them, but we still made the ones we had to make to win the game,” Morrison said. “We really didn’t have problems with the turnovers. We just missed some layups. But I thought our defensive effort was really impressive.”
In games like these, Morrison can lean on her two go-to players in guards Gretchen Morrison and Kennedy Leonard. They combined for 20 points while freshman forward Priscilla Smeenge added nine.
The discipline to stay with the pace and play more of a half-court game demonstrates this team can play at any pace. Carroll likes to play more of an open floor style.
Before Fossil Ridge, this was the lowest point total Carroll had scored in a win. It broke the previous low for 49 against Canyon Randall on Dec. 27 at the MT Rice Tournament in Waco.
“You would think that I would be more disappointed that we couldn’t get into our offense,” Morrison said. “But it really was a good defensive effort on our part. We defended their interior pretty well and make key plays.”
Smeege’s role continues to evolve because of her tenacity on the boards. Morrison noted her ability to power to the basket but also the flexibility to float outside.
The differences Carroll is making on offense may be hard to notice.
Morrison is trying to make the typical mid-season adjustments with the offense. She said she would like for Leonard to attack more to the basket.
“But she’s such a good passer, you hate to take that away from her,” Morrison said. “I just want her to increase her offense a little bit more because she has the ability to put up more points. She really trusts her instincts and she knows a lot more on the floor. I really have complete faith in her.”
Defensively, Morrison said she would like to work on more trapping out of her zone defense. She knows the defense has to be really consistent as the season hits the stretch. Carroll is going to be giving up some size, so the key is knowing roles and playing smart.
The Lady Dragons close out the first half of district play this week. Thus far, this team is shooting 40 percent on two-point baskets and 33 percent on three-point baskets. Carroll is shooting 70 percent at the free throw line. What needs to improve is the turnover-to-assist ratio. It’s pretty close to 1-to-1. Carroll is averaging 16.2 assists and 15.9 turnovers per game.