Photo: Etowah High’s Jaleigh Devine (right) pressures Ashville’s Sera Beth Potter during the Lady Blue Devils’ 52-41 victory in high school basketball last Tuesday (Jan. 12) at AHS. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Etowah High girls basketball team’s first area win of the season did not come without a few anxious moments down the stretch.
After leading Ashville by double digits for much of the game, the Lady Blue Devils saw a good amount of their cushion disappear when Kadie Kennedy’s 3-point basket drew the Lady Bulldogs within 46-40 with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
As it turned out, Kennedy’s trey was the last time Ashville scored from the field. Anna Jones knocked down a jump shot on the next Etowah possession, and a pair of baskets from Abbi Martin over the final two minutes wrapped up the Lady Blue Devils’ 52-41 Class 4A, Area 11 victory.
“We dealt with a lot of self-inflicted wounds tonight, especially at the free throw line. We shot 55 percent, which is abysmal. We absolutely have to do better in that area. But we did have some brilliant moments. We had some girls step up and hit some shots when we needed them and we took care of the basketball when we needed to.”
Martin paced Etowah (?, 1-2) with 13 points, followed by Jaleigh Devine with 11, Jones with nine, Katie Hyde with seven and Z’Niyah Manning with five. Jones pulled down 10 rebounds, while Lauren Wood cleared six. Devine and Kynzlon Gibbs each had three steals.
Kylie Roden’s 3-pointer 10 seconds into the game gave Etowah with lead for good. Meghan McCarthy’s bucket late I the first quarter trimmed the visitors’ lead to 11-10 but Etowah ended the frame ahead 16-12.
The Lady Blue Devils scored the first five points of the second quarter, but Ashville kept within striking distance, as Carlie Thomason’s basket midway through the period pulled the hosts within 23-19. Etowah responded with a 9-2 run to end the first half. Devine’s 3-pointer with 10 seconds provided the Lady Blue Devils with a 32-21 advantage at intermission.
The Lady Bulldogs scored just once from the field during the third quarter but shot 8-for-12 at the foul line to remain in the game, at one point closing the gap to seven points. Martin’s buzzer-beating jump shot pushed the Etowah lead to 42-32 after three quarters of action.
Both teams had difficulty scoring during the final eight minutes, but Etowah secured the win when Ashville went scoreless over the final 2:12.
Kennedy and Thomason each scored 10 points for Ashville, followed by Sera Beth Potter with eight, Ryleigh Waid with seven and McCarthy with five.
“I’m just pleased with the girls’ all-around effort,” said Hudson. “Hopefully tonight showed that we’re a force to be reckoned with in our area. We’ve already lost to Cherokee County and Jacksonville, and we’ve got to avenge those losses. Hopefully we’ll be in the thick of it.”