Lady Patriots Fall To Cougars 53-40 in Conference Title Game

Indy's Kaylee Carson ready to swish a free throw.
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MINT HILL, NC – In the Southwest 4A Conference Championship game the Lady Cougars proved to have too much height, and depth as they defeated the Patriots for the third time this season. Each Cougar victory was by a wider margin, which clearly shows their dominance, familiarity and confidence when matched up against Independence. However, the Patriots knocked off #2 seed Providence the night prior in a hard-fought battle to the buzzer 41-37.

Patriots Coach instructs team during 4th period timeout.

The Cougars are a powerhouse based on their record, ranking, and depth of their team. The clubs best player, sophomore Blanca Thomas stands at 6’5″ is certainly a huge force on the basketball court. The team rallies around her, and she consistently delivers.

Meanwhile, the Cougars defense did an excellent job at shutting down Indy youngster Kamryn Kitchen limiting the talented freshman to just 2 points. Kitchen who has averaged 13.5 points per game this season, was held in check by an aggressive defense. Therefore, the scoring fell on the shoulders of conference scoring leader Kaylee Carson, and Chloe Moss who both played a solid game keeping the Patriots within striking distance.

Southwestern 4A Tournament Champions Charlotte Catholic.

We don’t know the Cougars game plan, however, it appears the strategy worked to perfection, as they were all over Kitchen not giving her space to operate, and allowed Carson and Moss to take their shots. They missed early on in this ball game, Carson likes to drive the lanes, and with Thomas in the middle, she is intimidating and effective. Kitchen an excellent 3-point shooter, took only a few shots from the 3-point range. She was neutralized by the Cougars smothering defense, which led to 4 fouls putting her on the bench for most of the second half. This took away an important offensive weapon from the Patriots playbook, among other key factors in the Cougars margin of victory, most notably their defense and ball movement.

In the first period, the Cougars jumped out to a 9-0 run before Carson scored a basket on a drive to the hoop to make it 9-2 with under 3 minutes remaining. The period ended with Catholic ahead 13-4.

By halftime the Patriots began to find their rhythm, but never seriously threatened the Cougars edge on the scoreboard. They were outscored 16-10, and the Cougars expanded their lead to 29-14 at the intermission.

During the third period, Carson and Moss picked up the tempo, Tamia Burgess was battling under the boards more effectively against Thomas trying to box her out, but the huge height advantage eventually prevailed winning the battle. The Cougars Gracynn Gough, Alana Diaz, Dani Kacerosky, Olivia Fava, Harper McKain, Kate Mcardle, and Imelda Mcmenamin all made significant contributions for the Cougars with a solid defensive effort. Kitchen after scoring her first basket, did pick up a fourth foul, she had to be pulled as the game was not over. She could still become a factor in a Patriot comeback stretch run.

In the final period, the Patriots made a run, they cut the lead to 7 points, however, Thomas took over the game, scoring around the basket, and drilled foul shots when it counted most to build up the Cougars advantage to secure the victory. She controlled the boards, scored at will under the basket, and showed why she is highly recruited by the top collegiate programs in the nation.

Thomas was named the tournament MVP, the Cougars celebrated their conference championship. Indy returned to their locker room after congratulating the victors.

Both teams will enter the state playoffs with solid records. Anything can happen, so only time will tell. Catholic is now 24-2 overall, and Indy 19-6 on the season.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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