Coaches always want their teams playing at their best late in the season. Carroll girls basketball coach Teri Morrison considers the final three minutes of last Friday’s 32-30 District 7-6A-clinching win at Euless Trinity the best of the season.
It wasn’t about offense. It was about a team pulling together to grind out a hard-fought victory on the road. It involved switching on defense, contesting shots, collecting rebounds and getting the kind of physical play needed to win.
The Lady Dragons (23-6, 11-0) won their sixth district championship under Morrison. Now, they’re trying to make it another perfect run. They finished off with senior night in Tuesday’s home and regular season finale against Colleyville Heritage.
“With this being a tough matchup, the bleachers on the floor, Trinity a very good team and the bigness of the game, we really pulled together,” Morrison said. “Everybody knew what they had to do. I thought our defense was really good in the last nine seconds when they tried the game-tying shot. We covered it well.”
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Technically, the Colleyville Heritage matchup really meant nothing for either team. Colleyville Heritage is going into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed. But do not expect the tone of Carroll’s play to lessen.
“We don’t change how we approach the game,” Morrison said. “Our goal is to play our system. We’ve done a better job defensively. It’s senior night. We want to go out well. We wanted to go out as undefeated district champions. We didn’t want to go out as district champions. There’s no fear. We want more challenges.”
Leaving Friday open
Carroll will open the Class 6A Region I playoffs by meeting South Grand Prairie in the bi-district round. At press time, details had yet to be finalized (check our Twitter feed @netarrantnews for the latest).
However, the Lady Dragons could have had the option of playing a warmup game on Friday. But Morrison has really not been a fan of that. With a season that lasts three months, there is a time to take advantage of rest and focus on preparation.
“In my years at Carroll and Waco Midway, I’ve just learned that kids need a break,” Morrison said. “My philosophy is that kids need that because they’ve been going at it for so hard and for so long. Things can get pretty tough. Practice and rest are pretty important.”
The Lady Dragons are having respectable shooting numbers for the year. They’re converting 42 percent on two-point attempts, 30 percent on three-point shots and have been improving on free throws. They are now at 65 percent from the foul line.
The two scoring constants for this team is senior point guard Kennedy Leonard (16.6 PPG) and sophomore swing player Priscilla Smeenge (13.5). While Anna Hurlburt is in double figures at 11.0, Carroll will need a solid third scorer if it hopes to make a deep postseason run.
“The third scorer is anybody who wants it,” Morrison said. “Anna is fine. She’s played incredible defense. I’m really not worried about a third scorer. We’re going to make a deep run if we run our system. We have the best point guard in the state (in Leonard). I feel good about where we are.”