Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Elmore County’s C.J. Thornton looks to drive the ball during Monday’s game against Horseshoe Bend.

In the first half of the season, the Elmore County girls basketball team averaged 19.7 turnovers while assisting on just 2.5 shots per game. ECHS coach Amy Rachel hopes her team turned a corner in that area as the Panthers assisted on nine of their 10 field goals and turned the ball over just twice in the first half of Monday’s 53-30 win over Horseshoe Bend.

The Panthers (9-8) had eight different players record at least one assist and they set a new season-high with 11 assists. Elmore County finished with 12 turnovers and improved its record to 4-1 this season when limiting its turnovers to 15 or fewer.

“That was a big goal for us,” Rachel said. “We were a lot lower on our turnover number (Monday). We took care of the ball and moved the ball around a lot better. Hopefully we are starting to be where we need to be for the end of the season.”

Elmore County had more than two weeks off since winning the county tournament but the Panthers did not miss a beat when they returned to the court. Kelley Green got things started quickly when she made a jumper on the first play and she followed it up with a 3-pointer two minutes later to put the Panthers in front for good.

ECHS forward Madison Britt finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and it was clear the Panthers wanted to get the ball to Britt in the paint early and often. Horseshoe Bend collapsed on the post but that opened it up for outside shooters and cutters to get things done for Elmore County.

“As far as being under control, I thought it was one of our better games,” Rachel said. “They bought into the game plan and we actually ran some plays that worked. I knew we would be a little ragged coming off the break but all in all, it was good to be back out there.”

Horseshoe Bend (9-6) slowed Elmore County’s offense enough to stay within striking distance but the Generals struggled to find a rhythm on offense in the first half. Coach Erica Meigs said her players like to get into transition more and they couldn’t that against the Panthers.

“They were just making their shots. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do on that,” Meigs said. “We try to create turnovers with Reagan (Taylor) and Nadia (Brooks) out front. We want to get those and make some easy layups but we weren’t able to do that (Monday).”

The Generals finished with just two fast-break points and the half-court offense could not do enough to stay in the game. Brooks, who led Horseshoe Bend with 12 points, made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 11 but when the Panthers’ starters returned to the court, they finished the game on a 13-1 run to secure the victory.

“Some of the younger players are starting to come along and they looked good (Monday),” Meigs said. “We just need to hustle a little more than what we have been doing. They haven’t played in two weeks and they were out of the groove a little bit. We’re getting there but it’s going slow right now.”

Green finished with a game-high 15 points, scoring seven of them in the first quarter. Britt was the only other player to reach double figures as she finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and two assists.

Eight of the 10 Elmore County players got on the scoresheet. CK Bolton, who finished with nine points, led the team with five assists.

“You never know what the scoring is going to be like or where it’s going to come from,” Rachel said. “It makes a big difference when you have several of them who can finish the shot instead of having just one person to rely on.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.