Once Centertown pulled out the press, the county championship was a wrap.
The Lady Warriors completely dominated the second half of Thursday’s matchup with Irving College, turning a close contest into a 37-6 blowout.
Abby Fann scored a game-high 10 points on a night where 10 Lady Warriors got on the board. It was a great close from Centertown, especially in the second half.
“All season long we've been a second-half team,” said Coach Kelly Eckenrod, who saw her team finish the year 13-0. “I didn't know how gritty the Irving College girls were. They played tough defense in the first half and outrebounded us. We went into the locker room knowing we had to do better."
Eckenrod didn’t employ the press, her team’s calling card, until the second half. Centertown led 11-4 at halftime before outscoring Irving College 26-2 in the second half. It was almost a shutout, but – amid confusion in the final quarter – Centertown scored on its own basket.
"We regrouped at halftime and set the goal to raise the tempo. I thought they handled our press well, but it served to get our heart rates up," said Eckenrod. "We were a little nervous because it was the last game standing between us and the goal of a perfect season.
"We were determined to do whatever it took."
On the other sideline, coach Jasmine Evans appreciated the fight her team showed despite the final lopsided outcome.
“I think we were a little nervous at the beginning, but the girls played with a lot of heart,” said Evans. “I give a lot of credit to Centertown. Their press is tough. We did our best to manage it.”
Centertown showed its ability to score in a variety of ways from the start. Fann, Haley Smith and Allie Melton each drained jumpers in the first quarter, helping their team take a 7-0 lead after the first quarter.
Kaydence Smith, the District 1 tournament MVP, got Irving College on the board in the second quarter. Smith sank a free throw and banked in a 3-pointer for her team’s lone points.
Centertown countered with layups from Fann and Regin Grissom in the period.
In the second half, the Lady Warriors cranked up the intensity. The ball rarely crossed midcourt once the press was employed, giving Centertown multiple chances to score.
The scoreboard began to light up for the road team and Irving College could never catch up.
Melton finished with six points for Centertown, followed by Brinlee Griffith with five. Shelby Miller was next with four, while Smith, Grissom, Stormie Pezzimenti, Emma Carter, Trinity Reynolds and Kealey Simpson all finished with two points.