By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Madison Central Indians (15-4) pulled out a thrilling come-from-behind 84-81 win over West Jessamine Wednesday in Richmond.
The Indians trailed by eight points, 76-68, with 2:31 to go before rallying behind a swarming full-court press.
Six-straight points on two baskets by Demarcus George and a steal and layup by Cameron Thomas cut the deficit to 76-74 with 1:40 remaining.
After West’s Will Henderson hit one of two free throws, George answered with two free throws to get the Indians to within one at 77-76.
Thomas converted the first of three-straight steals by the Indians into a basket a few seconds later to give Central the lead with 1:36 to go.
The lead changed hands three times before Ross Ramsey put the Indians up for good, 80-79 with a basket from the top of the key with only 53 seconds remaining.
After a couple of more steals on defense, Thomas hit two-of-four free throws to put Central on top 82-79 with 32.7 seconds left.
West’s Daulton Peters, who finished with a game-high 38 points, cut it to one with 22.6 seconds left.
Coty Alexander made it 84-81 with a pair of free throws with 13.2 seconds left, then West misfired on two shots inside the final five seconds and Central held on for the win.
Central coach Allen Feldhaus said he like how his team fought through the adversity.
“I really like the effort at the end. That’s Madison Central basketball. That’s what I’ve been preaching. You get behind, by dang, you’ve just got to fight back and do whatever it takes. And I felt like we finally did that tonight,” Feldhaus said. “I just liked our fight. We could have very easily given up down eight in the fourth quarter.”
Sam Jones led five Indians in double figures in the game, posting another double-double — 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Thomas finished with 18 points and four rebounds, while George had 14 points, three rebounds in only 12 minutes due to foul trouble.
Isaiah Johnson and Kirk Humphrey added 13 points each, while Alexander had four points and Ross Ramsey had two points.
Feldhaus said he also liked the production he got from everyone in the game.
“I really liked our balance tonight,” Feldhaus said. “Five people in double figures. Sam was his typical self with a double-double. Cameron had a really good game against a very good point guard. I thought Isaiah had by far his best game as far as energy and being active. Ross hit a couple of big shots and Coty, you know at the end of the game he is really going to fight.”
The Indians got off to a red-hot start, jumping out to a quick 17-3 lead in the game’s first three minutes.
Johnson was the catalyst for the explosion, hitting two free throws, draining a long three-pointer and going coast-to-coast for a layup following a steal.
But behind Peters and Will Henderson, the Colts fought their way back into it and got to within six, 23-17, at the end of the quarter on a Peters’ basket at the buzzer.
West Jessamine eventually took a 29-27 lead with 5:17 remaining in the first half. The Indians pulled out to a 43-39 lead after the game was tied five more times, but Peters drained a three pointer with two seconds remaining to cut the lead to 43-42 at the half.
West Jessamine outscored Central 10-3 to open the third quarter and went on to hold a 63-58 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Central got consecutive baskets by Humphrey, Alexander and Ramsey to open the fourth quarter and retook the lead at 64-63.
The Colts quickly answered with a 7-0 run to retake the lead which they stretched it to eight at 76-68 on a basket by Peters with only 2:31 left.
Following a timeout, Feldhaus switched to a 2-2-1 half-court defense which finally slowed down Peters and the Colts’ offense and allowed the Indians to start their comeback.
A move to a full-court press a minute later proved to be the deciding factor as the Indians forced the Colts into four consecutive turnovers which they converted into easy points at the other end.
Feldhaus said he was reluctant to go to the full-court press earlier.
“I tell you what saved us is we went to our 2-2-1 halfcourt and Peters didn’t score in that. Then we picked up our full-court pressure,” Feldhaus said. “That really kind of shocked me because I was reluctant to go to that earlier because they have such a good senior point guard. I thought he could handle it by himself but he got a little rattled and they had a hard time getting it across mid-court.”
Feldhaus said it wasn’t always pretty, but it was a win.
“That’s a really good team. They had Montgomery County beat before they hit a three at the buzzer at the end to tie it, then Peters fouled out in overtime,” he said. “We made some mistakes and they made us pay. But we found a way to win. We’ll take it.”
The Indians will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Stanford for a rematch with Lincoln County at 7:30 p.m.