ROME — The Sonoraville Lady Phoenix clamped down on the defensive end on Tuesday, and that effort was the catalyst in a solid win over Cartersville at the Armuchee Thanksgiving Classic.
Sonoraville held the Lady Hurricanes to single digits in three of the four quarters, including just four in the first to build a solid lead, and used that as the formula for a 51-32 victory. The Lady Phoenix (1-1) led 12-4 after one quarter and 28-18 at the half but really put the game away with a 15-6 advantage in the third quarter.
Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell said she stressed to her team before the game how important their defensive mindset was, and the players went out and executed well.
“Our focus tonight defensively was to have them take contested shots and try to limit their shots, and we did a good job of that,” said Caudell. “We had some lapses in the second quarter, but for the most part, I was pleased with our effort defensively. Our offense took a little while to get going, but we were okay after that. Our defense was a big part of our win tonight though.”
Sonoraville came out of the locker room in the third quarter and quickly took control of the game with six straight points to push the lead to 34-19, and Cartersville (0-2) never got the deficit under double figures again in the game.
Maliyah Parks was aggressive offensively to lead the Lady Phoenix stats with 14 points. She got to the free throw line constantly throughout the night and hit six free throws. Caudell said Parks will shoulder a big portion of the responsibility offensively this season much like she did on Tuesday night.
“(Maliyah) has to do a lot of things for us,” said Caudell. “She plays inside some, but she’s also athletic enough to get around girls that are bigger than her. She needs to work on being more consistent from the free throw line. I’ve challenged her this year, and she knows if she’s got a mismatch, she has to take advantage of it for us to have success.”
The rest of the offensive output was spread throughout the stat sheet for the Lady Phoenix as the next highest scorer was Emma Garland with eight. Harleigh Chastain added six, all coming in the fourth quarter. A total of 11 different Sonoraville players scored.
No Cartersville players reached double figures as Drasia Jefferson and Cio Sieglee shared the scoring lead with eight apiece.
The win was a good way to bounce back for Sonoraville after the lost a close game to Cherokee County (Ala.) on Monday after leading for much of the game. Caudell said her team is still trying to find an identity and consistency early in the season, and Tuesday’s win was a step in that direction.
“It’s so early in the season, and we’re still learning how to play as a team,” said Caudell. “I’m still learning who does the best job in certain situations and who can play important minutes. We kept pushing after we got the early lead tonight, and I’m a firm believer in trying to come out and play well right after halftime to set the tone for the second half. We were able to stretch the lead and do what we need to do to get the win.”
The Lady Phoenix are back on the road at Armuchee on Tuesday to face the Lady Indians in a non-region contest at 6 p.m. Caudell said she has seen some good and some bad in the first two games, but her team will continue to look for improvement.
“I think the good I’ve seen is I feel like we have more depth than last year,” said Caudell. “I’m comfortable with a lot of different players going in, and we seem to have more than one or two that can carry the scoring load. Our defense is still learning. We’re still a young team so we’re going to get better as the season goes on.”