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February 18, 2014

North Murray teams playing for No. 3 seed

CARTERSVILLE — Both North Murray High School basketball coaches are happy their teams play again before the state tournament begins.

Because they, as boys coach Tim Ellis said, “want to get this (bad) taste” out their mouths from Monday’s disappointing showings as quickly as possible.

Cartersville swept North Murray in the Region 5-3A tournament semifinals at the Purple Hurricanes’ gym with the boys winning 73-35 and girls winning 54-18. Both teams play in third-place games today, the girls at 4 p.m. against Ringgold and the boys at 5:30 p.m. against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe. While Monday’s games determined who would host in at least the first round, today’s games are primarily for seeding as winners earn the No. 3 spot.

In the boys game, top-seeded Cartersville started with a 3-pointer and fifth-seeded North Murray (16-11) was content holding the ball and shortening the game to fewer possessions. Cartersville’s defenders allowed that for about 30 seconds before extending its zone to a half court man-to-man setup. The Purple Hurricanes forced three consecutive turnovers and converted them for easy layups, taking a 9-0 lead.

“We had to do something different,” Ellis said after his team lost twice to Cartersville in blowouts during the regular season. “I’ll be honest; I’d do it again. That’s a quality team and we had to throw them a curveball.”

Cartersville effectively beat North Murray in transition numerous times and led 29-5 after the opening quarter. The advantage stretched to 43-12 in the second quarter when Noah Allen knocked down a 3-pointer for the Mountaineers.

Cartersville led 45-15 at halftime.

“We did a very poor job of transition defense and not giving up second-chance shots,” Ellis said.

A.J. Mosby scored 23 points for Cartersville. Jordan Couch led North Murray with seven points.

Lucky for the Mountaineers, they have a quick turnaround and play again before making their third consecutive state tournament appearance later this week.

“I want to see how we respond,” Ellis said. “How do we respond after being disappointed and not doing what we’re supposed to do?”

In the girls game, North Murray (11-16) struggled all night scoring.

Megan Pittman and Katelyn Crumbley each scored four points, team highs for the Lady Mountaineers.

“We weren’t shooting the ball well and they made some baskets in transition,” North Murray coach Keith Robinette said. “Turning the ball over didn’t help.”

Cartersville, the top seed, led 14-6 when the first quarter ended and 36-8 at halftime. North Murray, the fourth seed, fell behind 44-12 entering the final quarter.

Robinette said a big difference was the physicality of the two teams.

“At this level, the refs will let you play,” he said. “This late in the season, officials will stay out of it and let wins be earned on the floor. Cartersville is an athletic team and they get after it. ... We didn’t answer that challenge.”

Similar to Ellis, Robinette is happy his team can earn a No. 3 seed for the state tournament and also win its third game of the region tournament.

“It gives us an opportunity to improve our seeding, for one,” he said. “Two, it gives us an opportunity to play better than how we played today.”

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