Shon Thomaston wanted his Carrollton High School girls basketball team to do two things at home against Shaw in the opening round of the Region 5-AAAA Tournament: win and stay healthy. His squad did both in a 57-9 victory.
The Lady Trojans (18-8) jumped out to a 21-4 lead after the first quarter that helped the Carrollton coach use his bench and keep his starters fresh for the rest of the week.
"The main thing that we've been talking about the last couple of days is we didn't play well in the last three games, and it didn't matter who we were playing. Whether we were playing a team we were supposed to beat or playing a team that we knew was going to come in and give us a tough match," Thomaston said. "We've been preaching about getting some momentum going. The main thing was make sure we stay healthy and win. I thought we took care of the winning part early."
While the offense struggled at the start, it was the defense that got things going as three steals resulted in the first six points of the game for the Lady Trojans. On the night Carrollton forced 35 turnovers and allowed Shaw (0-22) to shoot just 10 percent from the floor.
Carrollton got 13 different players on the floor with all but two playing at least 12 minutes and none playing more than 16. Alecia North led the scoring with 14 points while Brooklyn Emory scored 12. Freshman Emily Waters scored nine points to go with a team-high seven rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocks.
With the possiblity – and hope – of a long week ahead of them, getting some rest throughout the game for the entire lineup will be an advantage moving into the second round.
"To save their legs a little bit [Monday] will help us [today]. LaGrange is sitting at home right now just resting up and waiting on us. It was very important that I got them, at least, some rest," Thomaston said. "All freshman girls finishing the game out. It was good to get them minutes in the last home game, supposedly. I felt good about how we played with a little more energy. Hopefully, we can bottle it up and take it to Columbus with us. We've got LaGrange [tonight]. They've beaten us twice in a couple games that could have gone the other way."
The focus now shifts to LaGrange tonight as the Lady Trojans will travel to Columbus at 6 p.m. with a spot in the state tournament on the line.
"Now that we're playing them again, I'm kind of glad they beat us twice. We like to say it's hard to beat a good team three times, and we're hoping that holds true [today]. It's do or die, you win [today] and you're guaranteed more games, you lose and you're washing uniforms and hanging them up for a year. I like my team, I know what they're capable of, it's just a matter of them showing up and playing like I know they're capable of," Thomaston said.