The Upson-Lee Lady Knights headed into Saturday’s match up with Taylor County with a little pep in their step after downing Locust Grove earlier in the week.
After a blistering start to the game, the Lady Knights’ lead slowly dwindled and their offense seemingly came to a halt in the third quarter, as Taylor County went on to a 62-43 victory.
“We really came out and played well in the first quarter,” said Lady Knights head coach Bart Phillips. “I think we caught them off guard a little bit. We were able to rebound the ball, get out in transition, and make some shots. We just seemed to tire and foul trouble cost us in the end. We played well, but we have been short handed for the entire season. Hopefully we will get back some key players in the days to come.”
Upson-Lee sophomore Kiashona Carter started her first game of the season Saturday, helping the Lady Knights patchwork starting five players, until Jasmine Davis and Tykeela Gray return. Both players have missed every game this season thus far. In her first start of the season, Carter led all players with a career high 21 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter. Carter also made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, and made 11 of 14 free throws in the game.
“Kishona really stepped up for us tonight,” said Phillips. “She played well in all facets of the game. She was tough defensively and she got to the basket on offense. She played a lot of minutes out there, and normally we would not ask her to play that much, but we have been short handed, and she stepped up to the challenge. We don’t have to have 21 points from her every game, but if we can get 10 to 12 points from her every game, we can be dangerous.”
To start the game, Upson-Lee handled the Lady Vikings full court press. Upson-Lee broke the press several times and scored on easy buckets offensively. At the end of the first quarter, Upson-Lee led the Lady Vikings 13-3.
After the fast start, the Lady Knights went cold as ice from the floor. Trailing 13-3 at the end of the first quarter, Lady Vikings went on a 44-18 run over the next two quarters of play. The Lady Vikings continued to press the Lady Knights, and though the pressure did not bother Upson-Lee in the first quarter, they began to crack in the second and third quarters.
At the end of the third quarter, the Lady Knights found themselves trailing 47-21. Earlier in the season, the Lady Knights lost 71-40 to the Lady Vikings, and the game seemed as if the Lady Vikings lead would be reaching the 30-point margin once again, but the Lady Knights did not give up. The Lady Knights scored 22 points in the final quarter, with 13 points coming from Carter. Upson-Lee chipped away at the Lady Vikings lead, and with 2:29 left to go in the game, Upson-Lee trailed 51-36. But the Lady Vikings lead would be too much to overcome, as Upson-Lee fell by a 62-43 score.
“They are a good team,” said Phillips, “but that game doesn’t mean anything to us. We are focused on getting better, and getting a good seed in the Region Tournament. We will use this game to get better, and concentrate on the region games.”
Carter led the Lady Knights with 21 points. Ekorea Gray reached double figures with 10 points, Kenya Harris added five points, Britney Acey scored four points, Demeshia Russell added two points, and Ja’Leesa Gibson chipped in with one point in the loss.
The Lady Knights will host a region game tonight, when they welcome Eagles Landing to Thomaston. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m.