The long and athletic 6-foot-3 senior forward poured in a game-high 20 points with 17 rebounds and eight blocked shots to lead a swarming Sandy Creek defense that was fast and physical, holding the Lady Trojans (17-7, 8-5 Region 5-AAAA) to just 16 first-half points before they finally made a push in the third quarter.
Carrollton coach Shon Thomaston said the productivity from Martin was night and day from the two teams’ first meeting — a 46-39 Lady Trojan victory on Jan. 18 in Tyrone.
“I mean, I think we held her to maybe four points or six points. But a 6-3, 6-4 kid, she has that ability to do that with her size and she’s a very good athlete with that size. She posed a lot of problems for us underneath the basket where my kids are undersized,” Thomaston said. “My post players, they didn’t do anything wrong, but they just went up against a 6-3 kid that is smart and knew how to block shots without putting a body on you. It just made it tougher to get good looks at the rim.”
Sandy Creek (19-4, 10-2) led from start to finish on Tuesday, building an 11-6 lead after the first quarter and a 25-16 advantage by the break. The Lady Trojans made a little run in the third quarter, cutting the deficit down to five points on two different occasions, but the Lady Pats closed the period on an 8-0 spurt to take a 40-27 lead into the final eight minutes.
A pair of Kenyata Hendrix field goals to start the fourth quarter pulled Carrollton within 40-31, but that was as close as it would get down the stretch.
Thomaston said early foul trouble hurt Sandy Creek in the first meeting, but that wasn’t the case on Tuesday, as the Lady Patriots’ defensive pressure gave Carrollton trouble throughout the night.
“They still pressured the ball as they did before, but they did a better job of not using their hands and that let those kids stay on the floor. He was able to do the things that I guess he was accustomed to doing with his personnel. We had a hard time handling the pressure at the top from their guards. And every person that I’ve talked to, and especially seeing it first-hand the first time we played them, that’s their forte. That’s what they do,” Thomaston said.
Along with Martin’s big night, Jasmine Jones scored 11 points with six rebounds and Recee Walker added nine points for the visitors. Hendrix scored all 15 of her points in the second half to lead Carrollton, while Brooklyn Emory posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Tatyana Jackson finished with seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
And though the game didn’t go as he wanted, it quickly became an afterthought on the second annual “Pink Out,” where Carrollton honored cancer survivors and cancer victims. The Lady Trojans broke out the pink jerseys again for the game, and their was a survivor walk around the court between the two varsity games.
“I quickly forgot about the scoreboard once I saw those people line up and start doing the walk. Because that is what [Tuesday] night was all about,” Thomaston said. “It was about people that really battle. We talk about battling on the court, but these are people that really battled. Because of those people, we are able to do what we do. [Tuesday] was a night of giving back. And I’m just honored and my kids are honored to be able to have a chance to give back to people who have actually gone through that struggle.”
Sandy Creek boys 41, Carrollton 37: In a game where both teams never got much clicking offensively, it was the visiting Patriots (6-15, 1-9) that ultimately took control in the final minutes to pull out the four-point win.
The Trojans (13-10, 5-8) took a five-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter on a Jarrel Boone 3-pointer, but the offense went ice-cold from that point on, scoring just two field goals the rest of the way.
Sandy Creek went on an 8-2 lead following Boone’s trey to take its first lead since 20-18 late in the first half at 35-34 and then went 6-of-10 from the charity stripe in the final 51.3 to seal the victory.
Trojan senior point guard Javarious Jackson knocked down a deep 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left to make it a 40-37 game, but Sandy Creek’s Kenny Lewis nailed 1-of-2 free throws at the other end to put the game out of reach.
Trojan coach Tim Criswell said the intensity and energy level just wasn’t where it needed to be on Tuesday.
“We didn’t execute and we turned the ball over unforced. It was a disappointing night. I’ve been super-proud of these guys for the way they’ve been competing and what they’re going through. But we just had a bump in the road [Tuesday]. We didn’t play well, we didn’t play with good life, good energy or good focus,” Criswell said.
Carrollton went just 3-of-12 from the free-throw line and committed costly turnovers at inopportune times in the fourth quarter to allow the Patriots to take the lead and, ultimately, steal a region road win.
Jackson led the Trojans with 10 points and five boards, while Byron McCall posted seven points with four rebounds and three blocked shots. Brandon Lindsey led Sandy Creek with 15 points.
The Trojans now turn their focus to Friday’s regular-season finale when they host LaGrange for Senior Night before the Region 5-AAAA Tournament begins on Monday.
“We’ll play Monday somewhere, but we’ve got to find a way to get our energy back. I think probably now we’re going to wind up as a five, six or seven [seed]. If we wind up five, we’ll get a home game. If we wind up six, we’ll probably be going to Troup County to play Sandy Creek,” Criswell said. “It’s still a little bit up in the air going into Friday and there’s some games on Saturday, too, that could determine a little bit.”