CARTERVILLE — The Carterville girls basketball team built a 30-point lead in the third quarter and cruised to a 64-44 win over West Frankfort on Thursday.
The Lions (6-2) used a 16-0 run late in the second period and early in the third to put the contest out of reach.
“This was our fourth game in the last five days, so we’re running on thin air here,” said Carterville coach Matt Crain. “It wasn’t as clean early, but then we got going and got in a little rhythm. The defense picked up, and that’s what is going to carry us. I was really proud of how they came out in the third quarter and jumped on it real quick. We got to sit the starters for a quarter and a half, and we needed that.”
Chloe Peavey scored in the paint for the Redbirds (1-6), which cut the Carterville advantage to 28-15 with 90 seconds left in the first half.
But Hanna Schulmeister started an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer, and Jeniah Thompson scored the final five points of the half. That gave the Lions a 36-15 lead.
The third quarter started the same way the second quarter ended, with another eight-point streak for Carterville. Megan Barton drove through the paint for a basket, and Abbey Crain and Schulmeister sank shots from beyond the arc.
“They are a very good team, and we knew coming in that they are one of the top 3A teams in the south,” said West Frankfort coach Matt Hampleman. “They are young like we are, but their very best players are their sophomores. We had a post player that was sick tonight. This was just a tough game for us, and we’re trying to remain positive. We’re going to keep pushing through all of this, and it’s a learning process.”
Outside of Cali Wright, who scored 17 points, the Redbirds couldn’t get much going on offense. Meanwhile, Barton scored three of her baskets off of steals and 14 of her 16 points driving to the bucket.
“She’s athletic and very good at anticipating,” Crain said of Barton. “She’s pretty good around the rim, and she can finish. It was really nice to see.”
Thompson added 12 points for the Lions, and Crain tallied 11. Carterville had nine players reach the scoring column in this contest.
“It is a luxury, and it’s hard to key in on one of us,” Crain said. “We have some players who can bust a big night at any time. We also have some girls on the bench who can give us quite a few points, too. That is fun and makes things a little easier on us. They’re just learning to play together, and that’s only going to get better as they get more familiar with each other.”