It’s an awkward yet comforting feeling for a girls basketball program to know that it has won two playoff games yet has to play better.
That’s called playing to a standard.
As Carroll’s Lady Dragons (29-4) prepared for a demanding Class 5A Region I quarterfinal against Arlington Bowie Tuesday at Richland High School, head coach Teri Morrison knew the playoff results against Weatherford and Midland showed some frustrations.
The Bowie game was played after the press deadline; see www.dfwvarsity.com for the result.
Against Weatherford (a 51-30 victory), the Lady Dragons didn’t shoot very well and needed a 22-7 fourth quarter to pull away. Against Midland (a 56-42 victory), Carroll needed a 20-10 fourth quarter to win comfortably. That came after the team blew a 17-0 lead to start the game.
Partly, you can count on Carroll’s district (4-5A) not being the right prep course for the postseason. The Lady Dragons went 14-0 and won those games by an average of 31.4 points.
Simply put, Carroll was not battle-tested enough between January and early February. No matter how much a coach can try to simulate pressure situations in practice, there’s no greater teacher than the real thing.
“I think it’s a combination of where we were playing people who came in thinking they were conceding playing a powerhouse and just us not being consistent for four quarters,” Morrison said. “But I’m happy that we’re still playing and trying to figure out a way to deal with it.”
Had Carroll found a way to defeat Bowie, it would advance to the Region I tournament for the first time under Morrison and play the winner of South Grand Prairie-Duncanville in one semifinal at Wilkerson-Greines in Fort Worth. Carroll also was searching for its 30th win.
Carroll and Bowie met back in November at the Colleyville Heritage tournament. Bowie won, 67-53. But Morrison said there was going to be value in looking at the film to be familiar with tendencies.
Knowing her team
Any coach should know her team well enough to know its strengths and weaknesses. At this time of year, the weaknesses can get exposed, but the strengths can be accentuated.
Carroll is a great volume-shooting team that loves the transition game. It also wants its post play to contribute but not lead the way. That means guards Kennedy Leonard and Gretchen Morrison had to do their part to lead, while the trio of posts of Anna Hurlburt, Madison Drescher and Priscilla Smeenge will add to the success.
However long that lasts in the postseason will really depend on if this team will make enough shots and bang enough in the block to command an opponent’s respect.
“We’re a finesse team,” Morrison said. “We’re fundamentally sound with our structure and know where we have to be. In the postseason, we’re not a nuts a bolts team. We like the smoothness. But I love the way this team plays together and shares the ball. And if we do that, then we’re going to be successful.”
The post play between Hurlburt (all eight of her points against Midland came in the fourth quarter), Smeenge (eight) and Drescher (four) produced 20 points. That’s ideal for the postseason. But holding position and denying second-shot opportunities will dictate the fate for the rest of the season.
“We’re just going to do what we have to do,” Morrison said. “We want them to use their length to clog the paint and protect the rim. Our kids will always give great effort.”