By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
Jan. 15, 2014 — In the East vs. West Carter rivalry games, past players would circle their matchups on calendars. A cross-county, district rival with postseason implications in every matchup, what is not to get excited about?
On Friday, the rivalry resumed on the girls side of things in Olive Hill and both teams would struggle. East Carter would pull away late from West, defeating the Lady Comets 52-30 despite shooting less than 30 percent from the floor.
“I would call that pitiful,” Coach Hager Easterling said. “When you’re never ready to shoot the ball before you catch and you’re not active and you’re not moving or attacking, then that’s the result. That’s the first time I’ve had to say that about these kids. I’m disappointed in the way they approached this game.”
“If you can’t get excited about playing this game, against your in county rival, you need to be doing something else.”
Easterling’s frustration is valid. West Carter switched zones about four or five times throughout the contest but would never attack the basket on a consistent basis. To the Lady Comets’ credit, they were in the ball game after three quarters with the score 34-24 in favor of the Lady Raiders.
“I was so pleased with our team’s effort,” West Coach Bart Stevens said. “We ran until we couldn’t anymore. Fatigue played more of a part of it than anything else. We had to go with five or six people and it wore us out and they’re so hard to play against.”
East (15-1) would only have a one point lead over West (4-8) after the first quarter and only a Kristen Mayo three right before halftime extended the lead to 22-15. They would attack the basket only a handful of times when Easterling said they should’ve been doing that all along.
“It’s the same old thing over and over and they get their tails ripped for it and they come out and attacked moved and cut and we ended up getting a layup,” Easterling said. “We just stood back and wanted to play they wanted to play not the way they should play.”
Perhaps the only bright spot for the Lady Raiders was their play on the defensive end. West was 5-for-21 from the field but 19-for-28 at the free throw line. The Lady Comets had 36 turnovers for the game. Seventh grader Morgan Berry led West with 16 points, with ten of them coming from the charity stripe.
“We missed a lot of easy shots around the bucket,” Stevens said. “They’re not a dominating interior defensive team and we felt like we could take the ball to the basket.”
“It’s a good thing we did play well defensively,” Easterling said. “Offensively, it looked like we hadn’t picked up a basketball all year.”
A scary moment took place in the third quarter as West’s point guard Brooke Adkins went down with a knee injury.
Kristen Mayo scored 18 points and had nine steals while Megan Stickler had 14 points in the win. The Lady Raiders outrebounded West 33-31, including 19-4 advantage on the offensive glass.
While their bench is not their strength, East Carter’s took over and pulled away in the fourth quarter.
“They’re depth wore us out,” Stevens said. “They bring people off the bench in waves. You have to play a whole 32 minutes and there’s no relaxing against that type of team.”
Easterling is hoping his team does not have a repeat performance of this game as the season moves forward. He said need to take on the responsibility to prevent the issues they made on Friday night.
“I can do all the yelling and hollering I want and we can get in to practice and try to fix it but they know how to play the game because they’ve done it all year,” Easterling said. “Let’s change this ourselves. Change comes from within.”
East was back in action on Monday, facing Elliott County on home where they defeated the Lady Lions 63-17. They will travel to Fleming County on Thursday. West Carter faced Morgan County at home Tuesday (after press time) and is hosting Ashland on Thursday.
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.