CENTRE – Cherokee County High School senior shooting guard Karlee Perry quickly put a scoreless performance against Spring Garden in the Cherokee County Basketball Tournament final behind her on Tuesday night against Class 4A, Area 10 rival Etowah.
Perry sank a 3-pointer a little over a minute into the game. It was the first of seven treys she had in the game to lead the No. 10 Lady Warriors to a 73-40 victory.
“This game I had more opportunities to get open. I was able to shoot more,” said Perry, who finished with a game-high 28 points. “A lot of screens were set for me, and that always helps a lot. It helps build space where I’m able to get my shot off. They were just falling tonight.”
“She’s a great shooter and we want to utilize her shot as much as we can,” Lady Warrior coach Leah Nelson said. “We do have a lot of plays designed to get her open. When she’s on, it makes me look real good. She knocks it down and it makes it easier for us to get after it and stay after it.”
Three of Perry’s 3-pointers came in the first quarter, part of a 20-4 Lady Warrior run. Cherokee County (17-5, 5-1) stretched its lead out to 30-8 midway through the second before Etowah closed out the first half on a 14-4 run. The Lady Warrior lead was trimmed to 34-22 at the halftime break.
The Lady Blue Devils opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run to cut Cherokee County’s lead even further at 34-29, but Perry helped put a stop to that with a pair of treys 51 seconds apart. By the end of the third, the Lady Warriors had stretched their lead out to 24 points at 61-37.
“I was proud of the way they responded in the second half,” Nelson said. “If you take a look at the way we play, if we’re intense on our defense and with our press, it leads to our offense. A lot of times if we’re really playing aggressive defense we tend to shoot the ball better. I feel like in the second quarter our intensity had dropped. A lot of times we didn’t pick up who we were supposed to guard on our press, and it was making it easy for them to get the ball up the court. We just give up a lot of opportunities when we’re not intense on defense, but they turned that around in the third quarter and came out and got after it.”
Audrey Green added nine points for the Lady Warriors. Mary Hays Johnson contributed seven points and six rebounds. Lanie Williams and Ella Garmany both finished with six points. Garmany also had five rebounds.
Anna Jones led the Lady Blue Devils with 11 points. Jaleigh Devine added eight points. Abbi Martin tossed in seven points. Kynzlon Gibbs finished with six points.
With the win, the Lady Warriors finished area play tied with Jacksonville atop the standings to force a coin toss to see who would host the upcoming area championship game. Nelson lost the toss on Wednesday morning, but the Lady Warriors will host Etowah again in a first-round game on Feb. 9.
“We’ve still got to take care of business,” Nelson said. “We still have to win the first game and the second game to put ourselves in a position to get as far as we possibly can.
“We talked about from the beginning of the season every game we play is for the area tournament, the postseason. Every game is a stepping stone toward us getting better and being ready for the end of our season.”
Etowah 90, Cherokee County 74
CENTRE – Despite an 18-point performance from Connor Elrod and a 17-point, 17-rebound outing from Nas Diamond, the Cherokee County Warriors fell to Etowah 90-74 in Class 4A, Area 10 boys basketball action Tuesday night.
Early Cherokee County foul trouble helped lead Etowah to a 26-13 third-quarter run that broke open a one-point game at halftime.
“That messed up our matchups,” Warrior coach Caleb Hays said. “We tried to match their speed with our size. Once we got in foul trouble, we had a tough time keeping them away from the rim. When we’re having to play safe, that really plays to their advantage and speed. We tried to add some pressure to get back in it, which they handled well. That really opened up the floor for them, which led to some transition points.
“We had some opportunities, but we didn’t shoot the ball extremely well. I thought Connor shot the ball well (four 3-pointers). I thought Naz played unbelievable. That’s the kind of game we want from him, but with a team that fast and that athletic, it really makes it tough to match up with them.”
The game was tight in the first half. Etowah held a 20-18 advantage at the end of the first quarter and a 34-33 edge at halftime. A pair of Elrod 3-pointers early in the third tied the game at 39, but from that point on the Blue Devils began to take over.
“They hit some mid-range shots early that made us have to come out on them a little bit more. When we did that, they found their guys,” Hays said. “I didn’t think our help defense was very good. I thought we had some opportunities to get some charges we didn’t take. We tried to take some blocks and bailed them out a little bit, and we gave them too many opportunities at the free-throw line.”
Trent Davis led the Blue Devils with 25 points. Steven Jones added 23 points. Quintavious Wright tossed in 12 points. Ollie Finch had 10 points. Dee Spears finished with nine points.
Jaden Wilson added nine points for the Warriors (9-12, 3-3). Jack Amos and Slade Alexander scored eight points apiece. Braden Chandler and Landon Caldwell both finished with six points.
The two teams will face each other again in the first round of area tournament play at Etowah.