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The game plan did not end nearly as well for the Hunt High varsity girls basketball team as it started against Rocky Mount at home Tuesday night.
The Lady Warriors started the game on an 11-0 run, taking control of the direction of the game early by a break-neck pace, but fell victim to turnovers, foul trouble and a more-physical visiting team by the end in a 65-60 loss to the Lady Gryphons in 3-A Big East Conference play.
“I think we had a great beginning,” head coach Tiffany Parks said. “We were on an 11-0 streak and then the turnovers started happening in the first quarter and they went up and I think that really just killed our momentum.”
Those 11 points all came in just the first two minutes of the game, but things quickly slowed down for the Lady Warriors (7-5, 1-1 Big East) when the turnovers began. By the end of the opening quarter, Rocky Mount (12-3, 2-0) led 22-21 and the hot start had gained Hunt nothing.
The turnovers did not end in the second quarter.
Over the course of the game, carelessness with the ball limited the effectiveness — and rhythm — of the team on the offensive end. The Warriors finished with 24 turnovers, 18 which came in the first half.
“If we could have had six in the first half, it would have been a different score,” Parks bemoaned. “We also missed some free throws in the first half, I was very disappointed because we’re usually a better free throw team. So I think those two things kind of got us a little defeated.”
In spite of a less-than-stellar first half, Hunt finished the first half with a small 29-28 lead. Turnovers alone did not prove to be the downfall for the home team. But foul trouble, which hurt particularly in the second half, did.
Hunt senior Imani Sutton picked up her second foul at the end of the first quarter, her third at the start of the second and fourth after halftime.
“I don’t know,” Sutton answered when asked how she got into foul trouble. “Some of those charges weren’t charges in some fouls. I just, at the end, I had to foul.”
Hunt, already down two post players. and a third, Sutton, sitting on the bench for much of the second half, created an opportunity for Rocky Mount’s taller players.
None seized the moment more than 5-foot-11 freshman forward Caroline Thiel, who flourished with 12 second-half points to finish with a team-high 18.
The teams traded buckets at the start of the third quarter, but soon the Gryphons were exploiting their size over a smaller Hunt lineup.
Thiel scored six of the last seven points of the third quarter to take her team out to an eight-point advantage headed into the final quarter.
With Sutton out, Hunt senior Bria Griffith shouldered more of the scoring burden to compensate. When her teammate was out, Griffith scored most of her 16 points and eight rebounds, though she didn’t think of her contributions in that way.
“No, I kind of don’t really focus on those type of things,” Griffith said of her role when Sutton was out. “I just relax and let the game come to me.”
Halfway through the fourth, Hunt found itself no closer to coming back after the teams matched one another with nine points each.
Sutton came in for the final few minutes of play, knocking down two 3-pointers to resuscitate her team, but eventually fouled out with 38.5 seconds remaining.
“I was just trying to bring us back,” Sutton said.
The rest of the way, the Lady Gryphons did enough to keep the ball out of the Lady Warriors’ hands to secure victory. The loss snapped a four-game win streak for Hunt.
ROCKY MOUNT (65)
Bulluck 6, Moore 14, Powell 10, Mitchell 5, Thiel 18, Graham 12.
Griffith 16, McNeil 1, Tucker 8, Sutton 20, Lucas 3, Mercer 5, Haley 1, Smith 6.
Score by quarters:
Rocky Mount 22 6 21 16 — 65
Hunt 21 8 12 19 — 60