Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Parkview's Erika Joseph (33) tries to drive the ball past Milton's Tori Waldner (44) on Friday.
LILBURN — Katie Carroll’s final shot of her high school basketball career was fitting.
The Parkview senior has been one of the county’s top shooters over the last four years. Her smooth 3-point shooting was on display one last time on Friday as Carroll hit a 3 with one second left in Parkview’s 46-36 loss to Milton in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.
“She’s one of the best players to ever come through here,” Parkview coach Mike McCoy said of his only senior.
Carroll scored 11 of Parkview’s final 14 points in the game, but couldn’t get the Panthers to the second round of the state playoffs. She was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points.
It’s the second year Parkview has been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. Last year’s squad was a senior-laden team and undefeated. This season the Panthers relied on Carroll’s shooting as it broke in a new lineup.
“From where the kids began this season to now, they have improved tremendously,” McCoy said.
Parkview (21-6) captured the No. 2 seed in Region 8-AAAAA and got a Milton (18-5) squad that was No. 10 in the state and reached last year’s Final Four. Milton will play Etowah Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“That’s a team that went to the Final Four last year and only lost one player off that team,” McCoy said. “We executed on defense, we just couldn’t score.”
Parkview was 6 of 22 in 3-point shooting, including Carroll making 5 of 15 that was below her 45 percent career average.
Milton was able to make Carroll ineffective in the first half and the rest of the Parkview offense couldn’t pick up the slack. The Panthers had five other players with four or less points.
“Bottom line we had some breakdowns on shooting,” McCoy said. “We knew they would try to take (Carroll) out of the game and we couldn’t execute.”
Turnovers didn’t help either. Parkview gave the ball up 15 times in the game, which were mostly unforced.
“It was just us. They were unforced and we couldn’t handle the basketball,” McCoy said. “In a big atmosphere like this you have to handle it.”
Helena Poungue’s 3-pointer and free throw gave Parkview a 17-14 advantage, its biggest lead of the game in the second quarter.
“We weren’t playing good in the first half,” Milton coach Craig Bennett said.
Mia Marshall’s putback in the third quarter gave Parkview a 20-18 lead. Milton pulled away in the final two minutes of the period to take a 29-24 lead.
Milton scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to pull away. Nikki Dixon’s layup put the Eagles up 13.
Dixon, a Clemson signee, finished with 18 points. Penn State signee Tori Waldner had 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
“She’s been phenomenal all year,” Bennett said of Dixon.
Carroll hit back-to-back 3’s to pull Parkview back in the game. Marissa Mandeldove’s free throw got the Panthers within six with 1:24 left. Milton reeled off the next six points to end any kind of Parkview comeback.
The final bright spot for the Panthers was Carroll’s game-ending 3-pointer. The Belmont signee finishes her career as Parkview’s No. 2 all-time leading scorer. Her 1,476 career points are second behind Katie Hamilton.
“She’s a phenomenal shooter,” Bennett said. “I don’t know if I’ve seen a shooter like her.”