CARTERVILLE — On Senior Night, the Carterville girls basketball team used a 14-point run to end the third quarter and pulled away from Pinckneyville for a 61-43 win in SIRR Mississippi Division play.
Pinckneyville’s freshman standout, Kenzie Rushing, scored six points in one minute to slice her team’s deficit to 14 halfway through the third period. The Lions proceeded to go on a 14-0 run to end the quarter.
Hanna Schulmeister and Abbey Crain bookended the streak with 3-pointers to put the contest out of reach.
Montana Taylor led Carterville with 12 points, and Schulmeister added 10.
“Montana and Hanna have played really well for us all year long,” said Carterville coach Matt Crain. “They’ve given us that senior leadership, and I was glad they had good games on their night. It was good that all the seniors got in the game. It was nice to get them all on the floor for their final night and let them have some fun and see those smiles.”
It appeared that the Panthers had all the momentum after Rushing’s mini-run. But Pinckneyville went cold from the field after that.
“We didn’t compete tonight,” said Pinckneyville coach Alan Engelhardt. “Tuesday night, Nashville came to town, and we competed, and we fought them. We had a lead late and battled. From the get-go tonight, we never really guarded. I don’t want to take anything away from Carterville because they’ve got three tremendous kids. But when you give them second and third opportunities, they’re going to light you up.”
Sarah Breslin knocked down a triple, and Pinckneyville trailed 10-7 with 3:23 left in the first quarter. Carterville finished the period on a 10-1 run. Jeniah Thompson started it with a three-point play, and Lexi Swalls finished it with a 3-pointer.
But it was Carterville’s strong finish in the third quarter that set it apart in the game.
“Rushing is going to be a really good player,” Crain said. “I called timeout in the third quarter, and I told the girls the game wasn’t over even though the hoopla had died down. The girls picked it back up, and I’m very proud of them. They’ve had a really good year. Our sophomores have gotten a lot of attention. Montana and Hanna don’t mind that, and they understand what it takes to be team players.”
Rushing paced Pinckneyville with 12 points, and Megan Breslin tallied eight. Thompson contributed 11 points for Carterville. Megan Barton and Crain had nine points apiece.
Carterville improved to 21-5 overall and 8-2 in conference play. Pinckneyville fell to 14-13 and 6-4.