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CARTERVILLE — The Carterville girls basketball team got off to a tremendous start and rolled past Anna-Jonesboro, 69-46, on Tuesday in SIRR Mississippi Division hoops.

The Lions (19-4, 6-1) built a 21-2 advantage in the first quarter and took a 25-point lead into the locker room at halftime.

“I was really excited with our energy when we came out,” said Carterville coach Matt Crain. “I think some of that had to do with getting back on a schedule. It was a home game, and we hadn’t been here in a while. We had a really nice crowd, and we’re appreciative of that. The girls came out fired up and ready to play.”

Lexi Smith drained a jump shot to pull Anna-Jonesboro within 7-2 three minutes into the game. The Lions responded and ripped off 14 straight points.

Five different players made baskets during the streak, which was started by Hanna Schulmeister and finished by McKenzie Rogman. That made it 21-2.

Mikayla Bundren ended a four-minute scoring drought for the Wildcats with a 3-pointer. But Carterville’s Reese Herrin answered with a triple of her own.

Megan Barton, who scored a game-high 18 points, delivered four straight points as the Lions extended their lead to 31-6 with 2:37 left before halftime.

“Everything is still new to Megan here,” Crain said of Barton. “She is getting more comfortable. She is really starting to mesh with the girls.”

The Wildcats (9-15, 1-6) looked like a different team after halftime and played much better basketball. Anna-Jonesboro outscored Carterville in the second half, 35-33.

“We handled the pressure good the first time we played them, but we really let it get away from us in the first quarter tonight,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Matt Denny. “We were a little bit out of control on both ends in the first half. Carterville came out guns blazing, and they were hot in the first quarter. Our girls didn’t quit, and I’m proud of that.”

Abbey Crain contributed 14 points for Carterville, and Jeniah Thompson added 13.

Raegan Cruse paced Anna-Jonesboro with 11 points, and Angel Helm tallied eight.

The Lions travel to Nashville for a huge conference game on Thursday night. The Hornettes are still unbeaten in conference play.

“It’s a tough place to play up there,” Crain said. “They are experienced and having a good year. Our girls understood if they didn’t take care of business tonight then the Nashville game wouldn’t mean as much. They want to go up there and play as hard as they can and see where it leads us.”

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