RACELAND Three-time defending 16th Region All A” champion West Carter made final preparations for its opener during a shootaround Saturday morning in Olive Hill.
Defensive fine-turning paid dividends during the afternoon. The Lady Comets forced nine first-quarter turnovers and raced past Menifee County 74-53.
By game’s end, West Carter scored a whopping 30 points off the Ladycats’ 23 miscues.
“One of our goals was to pressure them,” first-year West Carter coach Faith Conn said. “Especially with No. 32 (Kelcie Woodard), they are pretty solid in the halfcourt.”
Woodard, a 6-foot-1 junior, is one of the region’s top post players. West Carter got out to a 33-14 lead before Woodard scored her first two points in the second quarter.
“The girls executed the plan well,” Conn said. “We worked on it in the shootaround ... traps and we switched a couple of things on our presses.”
The Lady Comets showed no signs of fatigue despite the quick turnaround from Friday night’s 61-54 home win over rival East Carter. They came up with five takeaways in the opening minutes against Menifee County and converted them into a 10-0 lead that grew to 17 points later in the first quarter.
“It’s one of the best first quarters we’ve had all year,” Conn said.
West Carter (8-5) extended the margin to 21 midway through the fourth quarter on Ragan Adkins’ layup off a steal.
Shortly after, the Lady Comets bench and the team’s fans erupted in celebration on senior Becca Nolen’s driving layup for her 1,000th career point.
It’s been a long journey. She led the team in scoring as an eighth grader, then had her freshman season wiped out by a torn ACL.
Nolen continued to work her way back. This past November, she had surgery for scar tissue and cartilage repair. She returned to the starting lineup recently after missing a few games and coming off the bench for some others.
“Her leadership is incredible,” Conn said. “Even though the knee slowed her down, she made the changes she needed. Becca’s awesome. She’s a team player to the core. It’s always about winning rather than about her.”
Nolen’s basket gave her nine points on the night. The game was stopped briefly for the announcement of her milestone.
“I didn’t know they would do that,” she said. “It’s nice of them. It’s just so exciting.”
Nolen, who hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter, was part of a balanced attack for the Lady Comets. Allie Stone scored 13 points, followed by Adkins, Kylie Gilliam and Kallie Burchett with 11 apiece. Burchett also supplied six assists and five steals.
For Menifee County (7-9) senior guard Kelsey Evans hit five 3-pointers on her way to a 19-point performance. Woodard got going after the slow start to finish with 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots.
W. CARTER 26 13 15 20 — 74
MENIFEE CO. 12 12 14 15 — 53
West Carter (74) — Adkins 11, Stone 13, Nolen 9, Gilliam 11, Burchett 11, Kat. Chandler 7, Jordan 6, Bond 2, Kan. Chandler 2, Steagall 2. PF: 13. Fouled out: None. FT: 6-7. 3-point FGs: 4 (Stone, Nolen, Kat. Chandler, Burchett). Turnovers: 12.
Menifee County (53) — Evans 19, Parks 9, Wells 2, Ke. Woodard 17, Lykins 4, Ka. Woodard 1, Hall 1. PF: 8. Fouled out: None. FT: 8-14. 3-point FGs: 5 (Evans 5). Turnovers: 23.