Valley Preps

Carver girls take control of region with win over Columbus

David Mitchell

Carver's Alexis Burns cuts up between Columbus' Ariyah Copeland and Tatyana Wyatt as she shots for the basket in the 2nd period of play Friday night
Carver's Alexis Burns cuts up between Columbus' Ariyah Copeland and Tatyana Wyatt as she shots for the basket in the 2nd period of play Friday night

Carver girls basketball coach Anson Hundley refused to look down the road on Friday night. His team is living in the moment now and wouldn’t consider playoff standings or scenarios. But even he had to admit what a beneficial position his team has gotten itself in.

The Lady Tigers held off Columbus 54-48 on Friday, using a combination of suffocating pressure defense and timely baskets to erase an early deficit in the first quarter and take control in the second.

The win left Carver all alone in first place in Region 1-5A at 7-0 (17-2 overall), while Columbus, which entered with just a single loss to Carver in region play, dipped to 5-2 (15-3 overall). Although Carver still must cross the Ts and dot the Is, it is in a commanding position heading into the final five games of the region slate.

“It’s huge to be alone at the top,” Hundley said. “We try not to look that far ahead, though. Right now, we’re just focused on the next game.”

Carver will get a brief respite from region play on Saturday against Central, but returns to league action on Tuesday at LaGrange.

Going forward, the Lady Tigers will try to do exactly what they have been able to do to Columbus the last two times they have played them, which is to push the tempo, pressure the offense and force the opponent out of its comfort zone.

That certainly worked on Friday night.

After falling behind by as many as 10 in the first quarter, Carver began to exercise its full-court pressure late and picked up a late basket and a free throw to cut the deficit to 19-13 after one. Then, it took over.

Alexis Burns opened the second with a basket to make it 19-15. Carver forced a turnover and Mya Milner sent a putback through the net to cut it to 19-17. After another Columbus turnover, the Lady Tigers found Alycia Reese in the corner for a three-pointer to give Carver its first lead of the game at 20-19. Trinity Vasquez laid a ball in to give Columbus the lead again at 21-20, but after Burns knocked down two free throws to make it 22-21, Carver never trailed again.

“We like to play up-tempo,” Hundley said. “We like to speed up the game and frustrate opposing guards. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting better every week.”

Columbus battled back to tie the game at 42-42 after five straight points by Tatyana Wyatt, who finished with a game-high 24 points, but Burns finished a slick drive to make it 44-42, Reese knocked down another three to extend the lead to five and Burns scored again to make it 49-42 with under two minutes remaining, effectively ending Columbus’ hopes.

Burns finished the game with 20 points, followed by Milner’s 16 and Reese’s 13. Hundley said this edition of the Lady Tigers has become a more well-rounded group and given it a chance to be in a position it hasn’t been in some time.

“These girls have worked so hard to get to this point,” he said. “Alexis hasn’t been able to do this in four years. She wants it so bad.”

Columbus returns to action on Saturday at LaGrange.

Friday at Columbus

Carver 13 20 7 14—54

Columbus 19 6 12 11—48

Carver (54)

Alexis Burns 20, Mya Milner 16, Alycia Reese 13, Givens 4, Love-Hill 1.

Columbus (48)

Tatyana Wyatt 24, Copeland 9, Vasquez 8, Williams 3, Floyd 2, Walker 2.

Records: Carver, 17-2, 7-0; Columbus, 15-3, 5-2. Next: Carver, Saturday at Central; Columbus, Saturday at LaGrange.