By Chris Whitfield
On a night where rescheduling was the norm for area high school sports teams and winter weather led to an earlier start for Dalton’s home basketball games against Ridgeland, it was blooming flowers that forced the hand of the administration in honoring a Lady Catamounts senior.
Dalton forward Maddie Howell was recognized by the school with a plaque and a commemorative ball on Friday in celebration of her 1,000th career point. She scored the point last week in a victory over Southeast Whitfield, but it was already senior night, and Lady Cats coach Jeff McKinney said he wanted to honor Howell with her own special night.
But when Friday’s game was moved back from its previously scheduled 7 p.m. start to 5, McKinney said the honor would be pushed back to Tuesday to allow all of Howell’s family to attend. However, someone had already brought flowers for the ceremony, and the honoring was on.
“I really wanted to do it on Tuesday, but they had the flowers, so we had to go ahead,” Howell said after adding 15 points to her four-year totals in a 59-25 win against Ridgeland. “I knew I was getting close last week, but I didn’t know when I scored it. I didn’t find out until after the game.”
It was an easy sweep for both the Lady Cats and Cats in their Sub-region 7B-4A matchups with Ridgeland at the Cats Den. Alex Bautista had 35 points as Dalton’s boys rolled to an easy 87-51 victory in the late game.
For Howell and the Lady Cats (17-5, 6-1), the win was especially satisfying coming off of their first regular-season region loss in three years after losing 69-59 at Heri-tage-Catoosa on Tuesday.
“I didn’t like thinking about that loss,” Howell said. “Coming out tonight and getting off to a fast start and getting the win sort of got a bad taste out of our mouths.”
The Lady Panthers (2-17, 0-6) scored the opening basket of the game, but Dalton responded with 10 straight points and Howell’s 3-pointer put the finishing touches on a first quarter that ended with the Lady Cats ahead 15-6. In the second quarter, Howell and Sarah Stinnett combined for 14 of the team’s 22 points and the Lady Cats led 37-12 at the break.
Dalton was able to cruise from there as the Lady Panthers didn’t break double digits in any quarter.
Sophomore guard Sarah Hartshorn added 10 points for the Lady Cats.
• Dalton boys 87, Ridgeland 51: The Cats (15-5, 5-2) doubled up Ridgeland (5-14, 1-6) in the first and fourth quarters and never led by fewer than 21 points in the second half while rolling to the easy win.
Rico Mears added 15 points to go along with Bautista’s leading total, while Brandon Painter finished with 11.
After suffering a 67-60 loss at Heritage on Tuesday, Dalton coach Mike Duffie was pleased with the way his team bounced back. The Cats led 22-8 at the end of the first quarter and were up by 23 at the half.
“This team that played tonight is the team that can do damage in the postseason,” Duffie said. “This is a senior team, and we didn’t come out focused to play at Heritage. I was disappointed and we had a meeting with the seniors.”
Dalton will host Northwest Whitfield for boys and girls contests on Tuesday in its final scheduled home games of the year.
• Trion girls 54, Christian Heritage 39: The Lady Lions led by a point after the first quarter and were tied at 17-all at halftime, but the host Lady Blue Devils started rolling in the third quarter.
Trion started the final period with a 37-25 lead and extended that edge for the Sub-region 6A-A victory against Christian Heritage (5-15, 2-6).
“They hit some big shots,” Lady Lions coach Heather Lowery said of Trion’s third quarter.
It was also during that period that Christian Heritage senior Rebecca Leonard — who had a team-best 22 points — was out several minutes after getting “overheated” and feeling ill.
Sarah Massengale registered a double-double for the Lady Lions, scoring 13 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
“I will say this — our girls gave tremendous effort,” Lowery said. “Our shooting’s just not really good right now. We’ve got to get better. We were 3-for-22 from 3-point range, so that hurts. And they’re good shots — there’s nothing wrong with them, they just don’t go in.
“They’re working hard. They’ve just got to keep working.”
• Trion boys 70, Christian Heritage 55: The Lions led 32-31 at the end of the first half, but the lights went out in the third quarter — literally.
Christian Heritage was down 45-42 at the end of the third when the lights went out in Trion’s gym. After 15 minutes to get the bulbs back to full brightness, the light came on for the Trion offense.
The Bulldogs outscored Christ-ian Heritage 25-13 in the final quarter to take the Sub-region 6A-A victory.
The Lions (6-11, 2-7) were led by 21 points from Will Patterson, while Michael McKinney had 12.
• Christian Heritage JV girls 29, Trion 24 (OT): Pressley Poag had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Jordan Clemons chipped in seven points as the Lady Lions (10-5) earned the road win.
• Trion JV boys 38, Christian Heritage 36: Evan Townsend scored 12, and Chase Tidwell had nine for the Lions (11-4).
• The expectation of hazardous winter weather led to the postponement of the following area boys and girls varsity basketball games scheduled for Friday: North Murray at Coahulla Creek, Murray County at Coosa, Heritage-Catoosa at Northwest and Southeast Whitfield at LaFayette.
Varsity action between North Murray and Coahulla Creek has been moved to 3 p.m. today, while Southeast will play at the same time.
Murray County will play its games at 6 p.m. Monday, while Northwest will make up its games at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7.
• Because of the expectation of hazardous winter weather, Dalton’s dual at Gordon Lee was canceled, as was Pickens’ Burnt Mountain Classic, a traditional tournament in which Northwest was scheduled to participate.
• In late results from Thursday night, Pierson Scarborough and Ethan Young each had a pair of individual victories and swam on two winning relay teams as Dalton’s boys won a three-school meet at Rome that also included Coahulla Creek.
The Cats won with 150 points, while Rome (116) and Coahulla Creek (40) followed.
Scarborough won the 100-yard freestyle in 51.32 seconds and the 100 backstroke in 1:04.01, while Young took the 200 individual medley in 2:11.14 and the 100 butterfly in 58.50.
Other individual winners for the Cats were Taylor Dale (50 freestyle, 22.65), Taylor Mathis (200 freestyle, 1:50.93), Michael O’Brien (100 backstroke, 59.69) and Alan Trejo (500 freestyle, 5:24.69).
O’Brien’s winning time in the 100 backstroke qualified him for competition in the event at next month’s state meet. Also turning in a state qualifying time for the Cats was Austin Richard, who completed the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.86.
The Cats also swept relay competition. Young, Scarborough, Mathis and Dale won the 200 medley (1:44.52), O’Brien, Scarborough, Mathis and Dale won the 200 freestyle (1:32.71) and O’Brien, Trejo, Young and Dale won the 400 freestyle (3:36.51).
In girls competition, Rome won with 152 points to finish ahead of Dalton (106) and Coahulla Creek (44).
Individual winners for the Lady Cats were Romina Mendoza (100 breaststroke, 1:23.50), Oli Valdez (500 freestyle, 6:13.16) and Ninive Arriola (100 backstroke, 1:03.72), who turned in a state qualifying time.