January 19, 2013

Lady Cats rise to challenge (VIDEO)

Win battle with Southeast for control of sub-region

In a showdown between rivals with the Sub-region 7B-4A standings lead on the line, Dalton High’s girls found the right mix of defensive pressure in the third quarter and did what they needed to do at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

Hosting revitalized Southeast Whitfield on Friday night at The Cats Den, Dalton went on an 18-2 run in the third quarter to turn around a five-point deficit on their way to a 62-53 win over the Lady Raiders.

“The biggest thing was effort and cutting back on the turnovers,” Dalton coach Jeff McKinney said. “The girls responded in the second half. We made a slight adjustment on the press, and it worked out.”

The victory puts the Lady Cats (16-4, 5-0) alone at the top of the league standings as the lone unbeaten at the midpoint of the sub-region schedule. The loss was the first in sub-region play for the Lady Raiders (11-6, 4-1).

“I have to do a better job of getting us prepared,” Southeast coach Mike Durham said. “We didn’t do a good job of handling their press in the second half, and we will do a better job of handling that next time. We just had too many turnovers tonight to be real effective in the third quarter.”

Southeast had done enough to to claim a 36-31 lead with five minutes remaining in the third period despite having leading scorer Megan Collins on the bench after she picked up her third foul early in the second quarter. Tavi Parris’ shots on the perimeter and Dalton’s inability to convert on free-throw opportunities gave the Lady Raiders a 30-29 lead at the end of the first half after a Parris 3-pointer.

But it was a rough-and-tumble first half as the two teams combined for 26 fouls.

“In the first half, our press wasn’t very effective and we just couldn’t score,” McKinney said. “We had been averaging about 40 points in the first half, and we only had 29, giving up 10 offensive rebounds to Southeast. Give Southeast a lot of credit, because they played a very tough game.”

But Dalton’s press became effective midway through the third quarter, leading to steals, easy baskets, free throws and a 12-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 43-36 lead. Southeast sophomore guard Cricket Wyatt hit an 18-footer to end the run, but three more Dalton baskets pushed the lead out to 11, and the Lady Cats had control of the game.

“Megan with three fouls in the first half definitely hurt us,” Durham said. “She missed about a full quarter of play, and you could tell that it hurt her rhythm a little bit. Other girls stepped up and played well, and I was pleased with that. She isn’t the only player on our team, but we are definitely a better team with her on the floor.”

Dalton senior Carson Sharp, who finished with 11 points and was one of four Lady Cats in double figures, said the third quarter was about going back to basics.  

“We weren’t rebounding like we should have been, and we had to put a body on someone and make our free throws,” she said. “With our press, we just had to talk more and communicate better as a team, and that really paid off with some turnovers and easy baskets.”

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