This season, Gainesville senior Jaymee Carnes heard time and time again from her coach Manson Hill that the Lady Red Elephants were a third quarter team based on their statistics, especially during the Region 7-AAA tournament.
This time, she decided to make sure the Lady Red Elephants got off to a quick start in their first round Class AAA state playoff game against Ringgold.
Carnes, a Wake Forest University signee, scored 10 in the first quarter, and finished with 21 points,10 rebounds and five blocks in a 46-20 win against the Lady Tigers on Saturday in Gainesville.
“Our team came out really focused and ready to play because we don’t want to take anyone lightly,” Carnes said. “We were shooting the ball so well early (7-for-15 in the first quarter), and that really gave us some confidence.”
With the win, the Lady Red Elephants (16-9) will play host to Franklin County (17-9) in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Gainesville. During the season, these two non-region opponents split a pair of games with each team winning on their own home court.
“We expect a very good game from Franklin County,” Hill said. “They are fast and have multiple weapons that can shoot the ball.”
What would keep Hill smiling is for his team to come out playing against Franklin County like they did against Ringgold (13-17). Against the Lady Tigers, Gainesville hit 3-pointers, blocked shots, created turnovers and forced Ringgold into poor shots in the opening period.
“Gainesville was hitting on all cylinders early and we just couldn’t buy a basket,” Ringgold coach Katie Burrows said.
Right from the start, Gainesville had a pair of 3-pointers from Loren Thomas and another from Mikalyn DeFoor to build a 13-4 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
Carnes was the inside threat all night for Gainesville with eight points off layups in the opening quarter, three blocked shots, including a pair of blocks on a single Ringgold possession to take a 20-4 lead after the first period.
“I was really happy with the way we came out in the first quarter tonight,” Hill said. “And this game gave us a chance to get a lot of extra players in the game.”
Also in the first quarter, on a single Gainesville possession, Carnes pulled down a pair of rebounds before laying it back in for an easy basket. In the second quarter, Carnes scored a layup on a nice inbound pass, and then a pair of quick baskets later in the quarter on nice passes inside the paint.
Carnes stayed in the face of the Ringgold shooters all night and held its leading scorer Megan Crawford to six points.
“Jaymee is an unbelievably versatile player,” Hill said. “She’s the best player in the state in Class AAA.”
Another key for Hill was the play of his two top guards — Thomas and DeFoor — and the fact they only turned the ball over a combined four times during the game. The team combined for 16 turnovers. The Red Elephants finished with 37 rebounds.
“Our guards are taking care of the ball and that is so important,” Hill said.
Thomas scored nine points and DeFoor added six for Gainesville.
For the night, Gainesville hit 20-of-52 shots. Ringgold was 8-for-48 shooting.
With the loss, Ringgold’s season is now finished.