He finally got his wish Monday at home against Sand Rock on senior night.
The Tigers scored the game’s first 16 points, but had to withstand a few runs by the Wildcats to earn a 58-45 victory.
“That’s the first start I think we’ve had like that all year long,” Carpenter said. “I think they played us pretty even the rest of the ball game, so that was huge. I think they cut it down to eight at one time, but I think we did a good job of answering their rallies at times.”
Cedar Bluff (16-7) held a 20-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 35-24 advantage at halftime. The Tigers were out in front 45-35 heading into the fourth quarter before Sand Rock (10-13) made a serious run.
The Wildcats managed to cut their deficit down to eight at 53-45 on a 3-pointer by Dylan Mackey with 2:11 to go in the game. They had chances to whittle Cedar Bluff’s advantage down further, but turnovers and missed opportunities helped the Tigers build their lead back up down the stretch.
“It wasn’t good to lose or get down by so much, but it was good for us to not give up, to battle and to keep playing,” Sand Rock coach Brian Mackey said. “We didn’t quit, but we should show up ready to play when they tip it off, and not spot them 20 (points).”
Added Carpenter: “I think we lost our focus the latter part of the third quarter, but I’m not taking anything away from them. It was a hard-fought game. If we hadn’t have jumped out to an early lead like that, who knows how it might have been? They fought the entire game.
“As long as they’ve got their 3-point shooters on the court, they’re never out of it. They can launch it from downtown Rome, Ga., to here.”
Cedar Bluff senior forward DeAngelo Hardy led all scorers with 33 points, including four 3-pointers. Hardy, who had 21 points at halftime, also came away with seven rebounds and four steals.
“We should have locked him down early, but we didn’t,” Mackey said. “They were doing whatever they wanted to do. We’d go to a 2-3 zone to keep them out of the lane, and he hit some threes. Then, we went triangle and locked down on him. We probably should have been in that the whole time.”
Senior guard Terrence Scales contributed 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals for the Tigers. Sophomore guard Devante Dixon finished with nine points and three steals.
Senior guard Dakota Mabry led the Wildcats with 23 points. Junior guard Dylan Mackey added 11 points. Junior forward Sean Stansell finished with eight points.
Sand Rock travels to Spring Garden on Thursday. Cedar Bluff hosts Gaston on Tuesday.
Sand Rock girls 53, Cedar Bluff girls 51
CEDAR BLUFF – After building as much as a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, Class 2A, No. 9 Sand Rock had to hold off a furious Cedar Bluff rally down the stretch to earn a 53-51 victory and spoil the Lady Tigers’ senior night.
“We knew Cedar Bluff was not going to let up until the horn. They played hard,” Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates said. “We had a nine-point lead but kept making some bad decisions down the stretch. We missed some free throws I expected us to hit. They (Cedar Bluff) fought back and made it interesting there at the end, but we had some girls hit some key shots at some key times.”
Sand Rock senior forward Amber Ashley led the Lady Wildcats (18-6) with 13 points and four assists. Freshman guard Madison McCullough contributed 10 points and six rebounds. Junior forward Madison Smith tallied nine points and 11 boards. Freshman guard Emily Langley netted eight points. Sophomore guard Ashley Norris came off the bench and scored five points.
Smith gave the Lady Wildcats their biggest lead of the game at 49-40 after making the back end of two free throws with 6:34 left in the game. From that point, Cedar Bluff (12-11) went on an 11-4 run.
Lady Tiger senior center Audrianna Hargitt made a bucket in the lane and was fouled on the play with 49.3 seconds to go. She calmly connected on the ensuing free throw to bring Cedar Bluff within a point at 52-51.
The Lady Tigers sent Sand Rock to the line twice in the game’s final 18 seconds, but the Lady Wildcats only made one of those free-throw attempts.
However, the Lady Wildcats turned up their defensive pressure and were able to escape with the win.
Hargitt led all scorers with 15 points. She also had six rebounds and two steals. Junior guard Katie McGinnis contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. Senior forward Hannah Leach tallied nine points and five boards. Freshman forward Marigrace Wilson finished with nine points.
“I think our girls are playing well,” Cedar Bluff coach Joe Carpenter said. “Sand Rock’s a good ball team. We played them a lot better than we played them the first time this season. I was proud of our effort.
“I think we’re getting better. We’ve got a week more to be running on all cylinders, and I hope we achieve that goal by the time the area tournament gets here. It’s all up for grabs at that point, and we’ll see what happens.”