Carroll girls basketball coach Teri Morrison had the pace she wanted. The Lady Dragons had some transition things working in their Class 5A Region I quarterfinal game against Arlington Bowie on Feb. 18.
They led 14-13 after the first quarter, trailed 24-21 at the half and trailed 37-31 going into the fourth quarter. Carroll was right there.
Heck, they were within five points with about three minutes to play. But a costly traveling violation took the steam out of the comeback. Bowie went to a delay offense. Carroll had to foul to get the ball back. The Lady Volunteers made their free throws and pulled away with a 55-42 victory over at Richland High School. Carroll ended its season at 29-5.
The bugaboo of not making the Region I tournament continued. Carroll has yet to climb over that hump in Morrison’s five seasons.
What was telling about this game is that pure shooter and senior Gretchen Morrison had a tough performance. She was held to only three points. Those came on the only three she converted late in the first quarter. Morrison did not score in the final three quarters.
“Our kids gave everything they had and tried on every possession,” Morrison said. “That’s all you can ever ask. We had the tempo we wanted. I thought we had them on their heels a little bit in the first quarter. But they were strong in the paint.”
That’s the area where Morrison had been concerned about her team throughout the season. There wasn’t enough in the block to keep the Lady Volunteers out of it. Bowie scored 23 of its 55 points where toughness counts.
“We just had a tough shooting night and they were the aggressor in the paint,” Morrison said. “We made a goal to go undefeated in district play. We did that. We wanted to get into the regional tournament because we knew we hadn’t done that before. It’s frustrating, but we’re going to get there.”
The encouraging moment came from sophomore post Anna Hurlburt, who scored 10 points, second to team-high Kennedy Leonard’s 11.
“I thought it was one of Anna’s best games of the year,” Morrison said. “I think there is a lot to work with.”
However, Region I turned out to be the Duncanville Invitational. The Pantherettes wound up blowing out Bowie and Hurst L.D. Bell to advance to the Class 5A state tournament.
Expect Carroll to transition from an open floor game to more of an inside-out look for the 2014-2015 campaign. With Hurlburt returning, there’s also going to be more in the post with Madison Drescher.
Morrison also believes there is more to come with freshman Priscilla Smeenge, who can play inside and outside. This team will not be as perimeter-oriented as in previous seasons. Leonard will be a senior and likely will have to pick up for Gretchen Morrison’s absence.
“We’re going to be a little more half court with what we do,” Morrison said. “I don’t know how fast we’re going to be. But I think we’ll be more physical underneath.”
More size will be coming from freshman 5-11 post Juliette Oliveti, who dominated at the junior varsity level.