Gracie Hart hit five three pointers in a season high performance, but Sweetwater’s long road trip to Knoxville and first performance of the year ended in a 48-39 loss to Carter.

Hart led the Lady Cats (8-5) with 16 points, followed by 15 from Trinity Upton.

“Her shot in the last few practices has looked really good. After she hit the first one I knew that we needed to keep utilizing her there. At the end they were box and one, so they recognized it as well,” Sweetwater coach Heather Jaramillo said. “She did a great job. There were a few shots that she could have taken, but passed up. We want them to take the shot that we want. That part, I wish she had taken a few more, but she did great tonight.

The Lady Cats finished with six scorers, but focus was on getting the squad — who has not played in 11 days — back into rhythm ahead of a busy week in District 3-2A.

“Tonight we were just trying to get back from the Christmas break and having everyone all together tonight was the first time we have had everyone. We just weren’t quite clicking like we have been,” Jaramillo said. “It was nice to have a game to back into the groove before we get back into district play. I think it gave them time to get their legs back under them and to execute the things we need to take care of.”

Following some adjustments after the first quarter, the Lady Cats scored 13 in the second — their best quarter of the night — and 12 in the third. A key feature for Jaramillo was to get Hart in open looks. The junior has been the hot hand in practice and Sweetwater looked to carry that over.

“We started getting Gracie in open look positions and working on moving the basketball and attacking. Once Carter made that adjustment in the fourth quarter and went box and one, we just did not convert the shots that we took,” Jaramillo said.

The system was working. Sweetwater hit nine shots from the field during the second and third quarters. Carter only had three in the third quarter. However, a wrench hit the gears ahead of the fourth quarter.

“We were making adjustments in the third quarter. In the fourth we just made some really bad decisions,” Jaramillo said. “It was not necessarily that our shots weren’t falling, but we just were not making good decisions. But I think we adjusted after the first quarter and that is what led to the good looks and open looks we were getting.”

Sweetwater also struggled to attack the boards in their Monday night outing. The Lady Cats were working against a Carter zone that took away rebounds and made the open layups hard to find.

“We just did not do a great job (at attacking the rim). Carter played a zone all night and they accomplished their goal. We still did not attack as well as we should have,” Jaramillo said.

Sweetwater, sitting at 2-0 in District 3-2A, returns to league action by hosting McMinn Central on Tuesday and Tellico Plains on Friday.

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