CCHS girls outlast Stone

Feb. 9—After a very slow start that saw neither team producing much offense, the Cumberland County girls showed a second half surge that helped the Lady Jets knock off top rival Stone Memorial, 38-30, Monday night at SMHS.

With the score tied at 12 heading into the second half, Cumberland County got baskets from Alexis Carroll, Aliyah Hawkins and Sydney Wilhite to extend its lead to 26-20 after three periods and, eventually, the final 38-30 margin.

"It has been a long time since I have been the head coach in a game, but I like my role as assistant," said Jon Torres, who served as interim head coach while Kim Cram-Torres serves a two-game suspension after begin ejected after a game Feb. 2.

"Coach Cram is the head coach, and she does a great job. I am glad to do whatever I need to do to help.

"Coach Cram does a good job of preparing this team. This is a well-oiled machine. Even though she wasn't here tonight, over the past few years she has leaned on the leadership of the team. That's what we did tonight. They were able to get everything started, and everyone followed their lead."

The win improves Cumberland County to 17-6 on the season and 5-3 in Class 3A, District 7 action. Stone Memorial falls to 9-15 on the year and 2-7 in league play.

"I guess the nerves were there," said Stone coach Mike Buck after the game. "We weren't putting the ball in the basket. We made three shots in the first half.

"In the second half, we wanted to execute better and start making some of the shots we were getting. We made eight buckets and eight free throws for the game."

Stone Memorial actually grabbed the early lead, holding a 9-8 advantage after the first eight minutes. Ashley Whittenburg and Kortney Headrick helped the Lady Panthers get on the scoreboard, while Lauren Clark and Jaylynn Baldwin helped CCHS keep pace.

Neither team scored much in the second period as the two teams left the floor at halftime tied at 12-12.

"I thought we defended really well. We just didn't shoot it very well," Torres said. "We probably set girls basketball back 30 years. We gave ourselves chances to do what we wanted to do, we just didn't convert.

"In the second half, we wanted to apply the defensive pressure so that we could speed up the game. In the first half, we thought the game was too slow."

Hawkins started picking up Stone guard Adison Howard almost full court to try and amp up the pressure. It proved to help as CCHS outscored Stone 14-8 in the period to lead 26-20. Wilhite and Clark played key rolls in the run.

"Defensively, I thought we were right where we needed to be," Buck said. "You've got to make shots. You've got to score the ball."

Wilhite led the way for Cumberland County with 14 points. Hawkins scored 12, while Clark contributed 5. Carroll added 4 and Baldwin scored 3.

Headrick was the top scorer for Stone Memorial with 10. Whittenburg tallied 9, while Howard and Houston had 5 each. Kailee Waldo chipped in with 1.

"We talk a lot about everyone playing your roles, and I thought we did that tonight," Torres said. "When everybody does their jobs, everything will be fine.

"I thought Ashley Whittenburg really worked hard for the entire game," Buck said. "I thought Adison Howard worked really hard."

Stone Memorial closes its regular season Feb. 8 with DeKalb County. CCHS will visit Upperman on Feb. 8 before hosting that same team Feb. 10.

"I would like to see some fight, some toughness from the girls. I would like to see some signs they want to extend the season," Buck said. "You can't play soft and expect to win. You have to be mentally aggressive. I would like to see better focus and better effort."

"We want to make sure when we go to Upperman we don't want to have any fear," Torres said. "We want to make sure we're focused, we compete, and then we will let everything else take care of itself. Upperman is a great program and we have a lot of respect for them. But we don't fear them."