By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
Feb. 6, 2013 — The magic and emotion of senior night at a high school basketball game can bring a lot of memories from four years of playing in one uniform.
East Carter seniors Kerie Steele, Corina Gee and Taylor Thornbury almost had their party spoiled.
The Lady Raiders had to rally late in the fourth quarter to send the seniors home with a 39-34 victory over Rowan County on Monday night.
For more than three quarters, the Lady Vikings were beating ECHS at their own game with tough defensive pressure. Steele said the pre-game festivities had something to do with that.
“We were so focused on the ceremony and we weren’t ready to play,” Steele said. “We finally got together and played as a team and came away with the win.”
The pressure started from the tip from Rowan, despite East racing out to an 8-2 lead. The second quarter is where things got dicey for the Lady Raiders, mustering only four points throughout the period, taking a 12-8 lead into the locker room.
East Coach Hager Easterling credits several misses inside the paint.
“When we did that, it affected us,” Easterling said. “It got us into that frame of mind of being tense but give credit to Rowan County because they played very physical and played with a lot of energy.”
In the second half, the pressure was still keeping East Carter out of their rhythm, leading Rowan by just four points at 24-20.
It was much of the same in the fourth quarter as well. Up by just one point with three minutes remaining, Lady Vikings junior Becca Duff connected on a three from the wing to give Rowan its first lead at 32-30.
“I’m glad they took the lead on us late,” Easterling said. “I wanted to see how we would react when we got behind late in the game like that. We haven’t been behind late like that in a long time.”
But Rowan County lost their composure after a foul was called on Rowan’s Candace Justice. Justice smacked the ball back toward an official, forcing a technical foul with the game tied at 32. Junior Megan Stickler made the free throws to make it 36-32 late in the ball game.
But Easterling said this game could have gone either way.
“They started making shots in the second half,” Easterling said. “They were either getting to the rim and scoring or kicking it out and making threes.”
Kristen Mayo led East Carter with 11 points while Bryana Greenhill contributed with 10. Stickler had seven points, all from the free-throw line. Haley Hall had five points, Kelsey Stumbo scored four points and Steele had two points.
After the game, the three seniors reflected on their time playing for the Lady Raiders.
“We have played for a long time,” Steele said. “It's going to be weird not playing anymore after the season ends.”
“It was amazing,” Thornbury said. “There are so many great memories here and I’m going to miss it.”
“It means a lot, you’re representing a program here,” Gee said. “We want to set a good example for future players in this program.”
“We’ve become such a fast food society,” Easterling said. “We want everything to come quick and when we don’t, we get frustrated. These seniors haven’t done that. They’ve persevered and they’ve stuck it out and made themselves better players. Their contributions this year are like that commercial, they’re priceless.”
East (19-5) has now won 14 of their last 15. The Lady Raiders hit the road Thursday to take on Raceland.
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.