Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

December 23, 2013

Lady Raiders win 3 of 4 in Lexington

LEXINGTON — Ten games into its season, East Carter thinks it has something special brewing.

The Lady Raiders ran their record to 9-1 on Monday afternoon with a 61-48 defeat of Mason County in the consolation bracket of the Republic Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic.

The win was East Carter’s third in four tournament games. The loss was a 53-36 setback on Saturday to Elizabethtown, which Lady Raiders coach Hager Easterling tabbed as one of the top teams in the commonwealth.

“We only got beat 17, and a lot of people say, ‘Well, you got beat 17,’” Easterling said. “Well, we were playing the No. 1 team in the state and we shoot 18 percent and only get beat 17. We did a lot of good things that game, rebounding, defensive-wise, holding them to 53 points. That’s what I told the girls, if we just shoot terrible instead of atrocious, we’re right in the game.”

East Carter’s shooting percentage was considerably better Monday, connecting on 48.9 percent of its field goal tries against the Lady Royals, who shot 35.6 percent from the field.

Lady Raiders junior center Kelsey Stumbo struggled with foul trouble, picking up her fourth with 4:39 to play in the third quarter, and finished with six points and two rebounds. That limited whatever edge East Carter might have expected inside. But the Lady Raiders got double-figure outputs from three guards — Megan Stickler scored 15, Haley Hall 14 and Bryana Greenhill added 11.

“I thought we had a lot of contributions from different people and the bench too, especially the first half,” Easterling said. “I thought everybody that came in off the bench did something to help us.”

Freshmen Whitney O’Mara and Maddie Boone each scored 10 points to pace Mason County (6-3), whose coach was disappointed with both sides of the ball.

“We didn’t play well at all. Didn’t come ready to play,” Lady Royals coach Piper Lindsey said. “Warmups showed it. Lackadaisical. We just kind of thought we could come in here and play basketball. We can’t let our offense dictate how we play defense. If we’re not making shots, we’ve gotta do something else to make something happen.”

Stickler’s 3-pointer with 23 seconds to play in the first quarter put East Carter on top 14-12, and the Lady Raiders steadily pulled away. They put the game out of reach with a 13-4 stretch spanning the first half of the fourth quarter. Boone scored down low on the first possession of the final frame to get Mason County within 40-34, but Kristen Mayo hit a trey to jump-start that 13-4 run. Stickler’s bucket put East Carter up 53-38 with 3:22 to play, and the Lady Royals never got closer than 12 after that.

“We were just getting sucked down too low and then had bad closeouts, and again, it comes back to our defense,” Lindsey said. “If we play defense like that — 61 points is the most we’ve given up all season — we’re not gonna win very many games.”

All the same, Easterling thought his team did what it set out to do.

“That’s why you come down here, is to play good teams and get better, and we played three really good teams down here, and we’re better for it,” he said. “And I’m sure Mason County feels the same way.”

The win was East Carter’s fifth straight in the series. The teams last met in 2010.

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