Lady Canes Edge Signal Mountain In District 6-3A Showdown

Carlee Lowry Rips The Cords For 27 Points In Losing Effort

Thursday, January 20, 2022 - by Jack Gold
Signal Mountain's Carlee Lowry (13) shoots between two East Hamilton defenders in a game Thursday night between the two District 6-3A leaders. Lowry scored 27 points, but it wasn't enough to hold off the Lady Canes. East Hamilton won the contest 53-50.
Signal Mountain's Carlee Lowry (13) shoots between two East Hamilton defenders in a game Thursday night between the two District 6-3A leaders. Lowry scored 27 points, but it wasn't enough to hold off the Lady Canes. East Hamilton won the contest 53-50.
- photo by Dennis Norwood

Signal Mountain’s Carlee Lowry and East Hamilton’s McKenna Hayes proved they are two of the best forwards in Chattanooga Thursday night. Lowry finished with 27 points and seemingly couldn’t be stopped as she snatched up what seemed like every miss and scored at will in the post. Hayes, who finished with 18, scored from outside and inside, was feisty on defense and made numerous big plays when they needed it. In the end, Hayes’ supporting cast was able to do more as East Hamilton finished on top, 53-50, in a battle between the District 6-3A unbeatens.

After the opening tip, Signal Mountain came out strong and forced turnovers thanks to their smothering defense. The Lady Eagles jumped out to an early lead, but their effort may have backfired on them. After getting punched in the mouth, the East Hamilton, girls flipped the script and took their turn being the aggressor. Behind the animated leadership of Hayes, the Lady Hurricanes looked mad and motivated, and they fought back. From late in the first and until the half, the team dove on every loose ball and won every 50/50 ball. They wanted it more, so they got it.

“At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of injuries, and in the best of preps, we played as bad as we could from a performance and effort standpoint. To see them on the floor tonight and to see them not giving up after being down and fighting no matter who was out there, made me super proud of them.” Said Lady Canes head coach Kayla Burse

Hayes’ 12 points and multiple emotional eruptions led the team to a 33-26 lead, but 12 points from her matchup Lowry was enough to keep Signal in the game heading into the half. Lowry and her teammates battled back late and proved they weren’t going down easily.

Signal started the second half almost identically to the first as they opened it up on a 10-2 run to take the lead, a run that was capped off by what looked like at the moment, a game-ending dagger for East Hamilton. Signal Mountain forced an East Hamilton turnover and pushed it down the court, unfortunately, a near turnover pass was made, but guard Meg Clark dove out of bounds and saved it with a perfect pass to Lowry for an easy layup. The Signal Mountain crowd erupted, but soon after, the gym became very quiet. East Hamilton’s Hayes, who had tried to steal the pass, was on the floor, writhing in pain. After an extended period with coaches and trainers, Hayes was carried off and the game had to continue. The Lady Canes would have to battle back without their star and emotional leader.

Lowry took advantage of the loss of Hayes and scored nine of her 27 in the third. East Hamilton, however, was able to stay in the game despite their loss and trailed 40-39 heading into the final period.

The game stayed close, but with seven minutes remaining came a shocking substitution. Early in the third when she got hurt, Hayes looked like she would be out for many games, if not the season, but out of nowhere, there she was, checking back into the game and energizing the squad. Though Hayes’ athleticism looked a bit hampered, her heart and effort were as good as ever, and her teammates fed off her energy.

“McKenna has probably played the least amount of games this season due to injury, so [the third and early fourth quarter] wasn’t the first time we had to play without her, but she makes a big difference. I love her emotion. I love the way she gets up for other people too. She gets more excited for her teammates when they get buckets and that gives us the momentum and energy we need. Having her has been special. She had the grit to push through injury and finish the game. She knew we needed her,” said Burse.

With three minutes left, the Lady Hurricanes led by three, and once again, Hayes was at the center of things. She led the team with multiple big buckets, assists, and defensive stops to make the East Hamilton lead seven with 1:30 remaining, but Lowry and her Signal Mountain teammates wouldn’t be silenced.

Lowry scored two big buckets and free throws to cut the lead just three as they pressed with 30 seconds left, but East Hamilton freshman guard Christal Collins, like she had done all game, showed composure and broke the defense down thanks to her elite ball handling.

“Christal is a rising star. I’m happy to have her, and I’m on her a lot, but she is night and day from early in the season. She has matured and controlled her game. To see the display of ball handling and pressure as a freshman is amazing.” said Burse.

Lowry’s insane 27 point effort fell just short, and East Hamilton escaped with the win.

(Contact Jack Gold at goldj2002@yahoo.com)


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