ANNA – Carterville got off to a slow start, but turned it on in the second and third quarters to beat Anna-Jonesboro, 43-25, for its eighth win in a row in a River-to-River Mississippi Division girls basketball game played at Union Hall Monday
"This was our sixth game in nine days and they do a great job in that 2-3 of slowing you down," said Carterville coach Matt Crain. "When we were down 11-5 after the first quarter it was kind of precarious because if they get a little run we could be in trouble, but we withstood it and ended up getting the lead at halftime. Our defense picked up in the third quarter when we got our legs and started to take care of the basketball. I’m very happy because this is a tough place to play."
Carterville (8-2) improved to 2-0 in the conference while Anna-Jonesboro (2-5) fell to 0-2.
The Lady Lions finished with five 3-pointers and were efficient at the line, making 12-of-18 free throws. Carterville was led by three sophomores, Megan Barton with 13 points and two 3-pointers along with two steals, Jeniah Thompson had 12 points and one 3-pointer with four rebounds and a steal, and Abbey Crain with eight points and two 3-pointers with two steals and four rebounds.
"The sophomores have been scoring lately," Crain said. "They have a chance to be a special group together, and we’re growing up with them."
Anna-Jonesboro led or was tied for the first 13 minutes of the game, including holding a six-point lead after the first quarter on two free throws and a one-hand jumper by Angel Helm in the final 2:36.
"We knew we had to handle their pressure and we did the first half and hit a few shots, but the second half we got going east and west instead of north and south and didn’t take advantage of Thompson being in foul trouble," said A-J coach Matt Denny. "The pressure didn’t really kill us, and that’s a plus, and we won the rebounding battle, so there was good things to take from the game."
Carterville cut the lead to one at the start of the second quarter on a layup by McKenzie Rogman and a 3-pointer by Crain. After Connar Hadley hit a jumper, Thompson tied the score at 13 with a layup and a free throw.
Helm regained the lead for the Lady Wildcats by making one of two free-throw attempts, but Barton hit a jumper from the right side to give the Lady Lions its first lead 15-14 with three minutes left in the half.
Mikayla Bundren sank a turnaround jumper from the lane a few minutes later to regain the lead for the Lady Wildcats, but Barton swished a 3-pointer with 1:57 remaining to give Carterville an 18-16 lead.
The Lady Lions got the ball back with a minute left and decided to go for the final shot, but ended up throwing the ball away with 11.4 seconds left. Anna-Jonesboro brought the ball down quickly, but the Lady Lions defense forced a desperation shot with a second left that fell short leaving Carterville up by two at the half.
Carterville put the game away in the third quarter, holding Anna-Jonesboro to two points to take a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter. After committing eight turnovers in the first half, the Lady Lions didn’t have a turnover in the third quarter.
Thompson got it started with a 3-pointer at the 1:31 mark, and Barton finished it with a desperation 3-pointer from almost the mid-court line that came off the glass at the buzzer.
The only points in the third quarter for the Lady Wildcats came with 1:20 left on a pair of free throws by Helm, which snapped a scoreless drought that had started with 2:34 remaining in the second quarter.