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Titans hang on to beat C.C. Carroll, 48-45

By jhornberg
Dec. 14, 2010 at 6:14 a.m.

Victoria East's Kenya Griffin takes a shot over Corpus Christi  Carroll's Melanie Jackson during the first quarter of Tuesday's game. Griffin finished with nine points, including a late free throw to give the Titans the lead.

Kenya Griffin was in a tight spot. She stood at the line with the game tied at 45, and less than a minute left.

The Titans were poised to run away with the game at halftime. Their opponent, Corpus Christi Carroll, had scored just four second-quarter points and was down 16 at the half.

But the Lady Tigers (10-5) came roaring back with a brutal half-court press to not only hold Victoria East virtually scoreless in the third, but to roll back to within three, and early in the fourth quarter, take the lead.

Griffin took her place at the line and focused. The game could on the line.

"I got to put these in so we can win," she said. "It was exciting, it was time for me to show up and help my team win."

The first one went in. The second clanked off the rim and out.

"We needed to make our free throws, and she did," said Titans coach Yulonda Wimbish-North. "I was probably shaken, I didn't know how it was going to go. She did what she could to get us a little lead."

The Titans (8-4) made the free throw stand and added two more to hold on to beat Corpus Christi Carroll 48-45 Tuesday night.

"Their intensity level was up, and it just came down to a battle of who wanted it more," Griffin said. "And I guess we did."

The Titans post finished with nine points, third on the team behind Adelaide Wenzel (16) and Bre Williams (10).

Griffin also had a challenge on defense. She had to pick up senior post Melanie Jackson, the Lady Tigers' big scoring threat.

"Just stay on her," Griffin said. "She doesn't like pressure, so all you have to do is put pressure on her and she'll fold."

Jackson led all scorers with 21 points, and was a menace in the low post. Worse, she was getting the ball uncontested.

"We didn't do a good job on her, and they did an awesome job getting her the ball," "They tried to pull you away, and they did an awesome job with that, where our kids really weren't in weak side all the time.

"I challenged Kenya that when you have a person who scores a lot of points like that, you be a little more active on defense and make it hard for them to get the ball."

The Titans cruised through the first two quarters, amassing a 16-point lead and finishing the half on a 9-0 run.

But the game changed in the third quarter. Gone was the free-wheeling offense of the first two for the Titans, as just bringing the ball past half court became a struggle.

"I think we got a little too comfortable and the turnovers killed us," Griffin said.

East was outscored 20-7 in the quarter. Wimbish-North said the Titans turned the ball over 26 times Tuesday night. Seven of those turnovers came on steals in the that quarter.

"We were taking in the ball into trapping areas, and really you need to get the ball to the middle," Wimbish-North said.

Those conditions improved in the fourth quarter. The Titans were able bear down and hold off Carroll, although the last of their lead evaporated early in the quarter into a Lady Tigers lead.

Wimbish-North said East was able to cut down on the turnovers, but there were still mistakes.

"I thought we did have some breaks where we caused them to turn the ball over a couple of times," Wimbish-North said. "We did do better, but we still turned the ball over in some crucial times."

She said the practices will likely focus in on passing, since that was part of the problem and the cause of several turnovers.

"It could have gone in Carroll's favor. But a win is a win," she added.

NOTES: Senior guard Erin Gomez was sidelined for Tuesday's game. ... The Titans out-rebounded 29 to 15, including 10 offensive boards. But they lost the steals war, giving but 21 steals to just 13 of their own.

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