Decatur hands Cartersville its first loss, 76-75
For the first 20 minutes of Sunday's game against the defending World Basketball Association champion Decatur Court Kings, the Cartersville Warriors looked great.
Over the last 20 minutes of the game, though, Cartersville struggled on both ends of the floor, resulting in a disappointing 76-75 loss to Decatur in a WBA game at the J.H. Morgan Gymnasium. The loss is Cartersville's first of the season, dropping the Warriors to 4-1 overall (3-1 in the WBA), while Decatur evened its record at 2-2, snapping a two-game losing streak.
"I feel like any time you have a double-digit lead like we did in the first half and you let the other team back in the game, it's tough on you mentally," said Cartersville head coach Cory Baldwin. "Plus, we still had the lead with under a minute to go in the game even though we had two turnovers in the last two minutes. This loss hurts for a bunch of reasons."
Cartersville led 46-35 at halftime behind 17 points from Andrew Jones, but the Warriors went cold from the field in the third period, making just two of their 15 shots (13.3 percent) and allowing the Court Kings to go from being down 11 at the break to leading 59-55 going into the fourth quarter.
"The third quarter was brutal," said Baldwin, whose team scored just nine points in the frame. "You have to give Decatur credit for not allowing us to pass the ball to the wings like we did in the first half, but we stopped sharing the ball and it took us too long to adjust to what Decatur was doing defensively. Combine that with the fact that we weren't making defensive stops like we did in the first half and it all added up to one lousy quarter."
Cartersville tied the game at 65 and 70 in the final quarter before taking a 72-70 lead on a Kenny Saunders layup with 2:30 remaining. Decatur re-tied the game at 72, but Jeremy Law made a free throw with 1:10 to go to put the Warriors up, 73-72.
The Court Kings made another basket to lead 74-73, but Jones drove the length of the court and made a layup while being fouled. He missed the subsequent free throw, but Cartersville still held a 75-74 advantage with 10 seconds left. Following a Decatur timeout, the Court Kings inbounded the ball and Wright drove the baseline before throwing down a huge dunk to make it 76-75 Court Kings with four seconds to go.
It was Cartersville's turn to call a timeout and with 3.7 seconds remaining, the Warriors inbounded the ball in the frontcourt. Law drove to the basket, but he missed a layup and Decatur's Martinis Woody grabbed the rebound to seal the win for the Court Kings.
Cartersville plays again Friday night, when the Warriors travel to Decatur for a rematch with the Court Kings, and Baldwin said he expects his team to come ready to play the full 40 minutes.
"I couldn't ask for any better team for us to play next," said Baldwin. "I don't think I'm going to have to make any pep talks to get them fired up. We've also been a good road team this season and hopefully we can keep that going."
Jones led Cartersville with 21 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Cox finished with 16 and six rebounds, Saunders scored 12 with five rebounds and Law pitched in 10, four rebounds and two assists in the loss.
Wright paced the Court Kings with 23 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Kenny Boyd had 13 with five rebounds, Woody had 12 points and 16 rebounds and Benny Lewis added 12 for Decatur.
Following Friday's game at Decatur, Cartersville hosts the Tupelo Rock-N-Rollers Saturday night and the Atlanta SpeedBoys Sunday afternoon in a non-conference game to close out the weekend.
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