Junior guards Jess Brannon and Mechelle Adams were in foul trouble late in the opening game of the Cherokee County Tournament against Gaylesville, forcing Carpenter to sit the duo on the bench for a stretch.
Instead of one player stepping up, Carpenter got three in Tanessa Fife, Bre Moten and Nicole Soignet. The trio helped pick up the slack to give the Lady Tigers a 47-36 victory at the new Gadsden State-Cherokee arena Tuesday.
Fife finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. Moten grabbed 12 boards in addition to scoring five points and blocked three shots. Soignet drained several clutch 3-pointers to finish with 12 points and dished out three assists.
With the win, the Lady Tigers (8-11) advance to the county tournament semifinals to meet Spring Garden (19-2) on Thursday at 6 p.m. Gaylesville dropped to 5-12 with the loss.
Carpenter lauded the efforts of the players who stepped up in their teammates’ absence.
"Jess and Mechelle both got in foul trouble, so we did pretty well considering what we had," Carpenter said. "I think Tanessa had an outstanding game for us. She did a good job driving to the basket tonight. Bre Moten played an outstanding part tonight by getting some big rebounds, so that’s huge for us. (Soignet) missed some 3s early, but she redeemed herself late, so that helped us out."
Cedar Bluff built an 11-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Trojans battled back to make it a one-point game at the half and trailed 16-15.
Cedar Bluff extended its lead to 31-21 at the end of the third quarter, but Gaylesville began to hit its stride midway through the fourth.
Kaitlyn Hammett nailed a 3-pointer for the Lady Trojans with 4:39 left in the game to pull within a bucket at 36-34. Gaylesville tied the game at 36 on a bucket by Amber Moseley with 3:50 left, but Soignet countered by banking a 3-pointer off the glass to push the Lady Tiger lead to 39-36 with 3:04 to go.
Cedar Bluff’s defense tightened and held the Lady Trojans scoreless the rest of the way.
"It looked like to me they (Gaylesville) were about to really be on with some 3-point shots," Carpenter said. "We opted to go back to our original defense where we manned them up some. That seemed to help us limit their outside shooting. They’re pretty good at that. They hit 3-pointers on a consistent basis."
Krysta Nichols led Gaylesville with 11 points. Kacie James added seven points and Crystal Seay finished with six points.
Brannon led all scorers with 15 points. She also had six rebounds and two assists for the Lady Tigers.