Even though they didn’t have a particularly strong offensive effort at home against Highland Saturday night, Cardington was able to get a good enough defense performance to come away with a 36-30 win to improve to 3-9 on the season.
The Pirates outscored their opponents 20-13 over the middle two quarters in the game to pick up the win in a game where neither team could get untracked in the early going. Over the eight minutes of the opening period, Cardington only scored on baskets by Kaitlyn Kavanaugh and Alyson Adams, but they only gave up a shot to Lexi Winkelfoos, as well as a pair of foul shots, so the score was tied at four.
“It definitely wasn’t the prettiest game,” said Pirates coach Jodi Brown. “It comes down to making free throws, finishing lay-ups and boxing out. We have to be able to do the little things correctly.”
Cardington’s offense would start to pick up in the second quarter. With the score tied at eight after the teams traded baskets over the first three minutes of the period, the Pirates got a bucket from Nadia Kerman followed by back-to-back scores by Allysen Smith to jump in front by six points.
Katie Davies would score for the Scots, but Adams scored off a steal to keep the Pirates ahead by six. However, the Scots would finish the quarter well. Trailing 18-11 with under a minute remaining in the half, Davies hit three-of-four free throws down the stretch to bring Highland within four at the intermission.
“Both teams played very tough defense,” said Scot coach Matt Downing. “Sometimes offense is tough to get generated. We did a good job of getting open shots, but just have to finish.”
Brown felt that her team was sparked by Kerman in the second quarter. After Kavanaugh left the game early on with foul trouble, she needed her bench players to give the Pirates a spark.
“Nadia did very well in the second and our two freshmen (Kerman and Adams) played well,” she said. “We threw a different kind of press in hopes to get more turnovers.”
Kavanaugh and Summer Morgan got Cardington off to a good start in the third quarter, as both hit shots to give the Pirates an eight-point lead at 22-14. They would lead 24-17 at the end of a low-scoring period.
Highland would try to fight their way back in the fourth quarter, but just struggled to maintain offensive momentum. After Kavanaugh hit two free throws to give the Pirates a nine-point lead, they were able to maintain that margin for much of the period, but the Scots got a basket by Hailey Moore and two free throws from Kayla Davies to close within a 34-29 margin with just over a minute to go.
However, the Scots would only get one more point the rest of the way and the Pirates were able to hold on for the win.
“I think our girls played hard and I’m proud of them,” said Downing. “As a first year coach, I’m trying to change what the girls do and I think they’ve responded well. They’re going to continue to get better and that’s what’s important.”
Moore led Highland with eight points. For Cardington, both Adams and Kavanaugh scored eight.
Brown was happy her team was able to fight for a win and hopes they can continue doing so this week, citing a Monday game against East Knox as an important one for continuing to build momentum (result was too late for deadline).
“We needed it,” she said of the win. “We’re 3-9 now and have East Knox on Monday and I’d really like to be 4-9 after that.”