By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Madison Southern Eagles played really well Monday for two quarters and six minutes in their 89-84 loss to the East Jessamine Jaguars.
The problem was, the first quarter and two minutes of the second, were dreadfully bad; they had more turnovers, 10, than shots.
The Eagles dug themselves a 44-12 hole two minutes into the second quarter before staging a miraculous comeback to get to within one point, 66-65, with 7:06 left in the game.
The Jaguars regrouped and stretched their lead back out to 10 points at 79-69 with 4:01 left to play, but once again the Eagles refused to quit.
Three free throws by Caleb Miller — the second two coming after he rebounded his own miss and was fouled again — and a basket by Stacy Burns cut the margin in half at 79-74 with 2:50 left.
After Ronnie Carson put the Jags up 81-74 with two free throws with 2:46 left, Tanner Kidwell hit a driving layup and Burns nailed a three pointer to get the Eagles to within two, 81-79, with 2:06 to go.
Carson drained two more free throws with 53 seconds to go to once again put East up by four, 85-81.
But the Eagles again had an answer.
One of the smallest players on the floor, Michael Jefferson, slipped in and grabbed a rebound of a missed free throw from three bigger East players.
Jefferson kicked it out to Burns who hit another clutch three-pointer with 31.4 seconds left to pull Southern within one, 85-84.
But with East passing the ball around to run down the clock, Southern was unable to catch a player to foul until only four seconds remained.
Carson hit four free throws at the end to round out the scoring.
Southern coach Shane Buttry said the game goes into the books as a loss, but the way his players fought to come back almost makes it feel like a win.
“They could have quit. We were down 32 points and it still came down to the last 10 seconds of the game. It won’t go down as a W, but I’ll tell you what. How can you come from 32 points down and cut it to one and not be proud of them,” Buttry said. “It’s a weird feeling. I’m proud of them as I can be, but you look at the scoreboard and we still lost. It’s a credit to them, they don’t give up. We’re getting there. These guys listen and they care and they want to win.”
The first quarter, East’s Hayden Smith was on fire. The junior guard hit six-consecutive three pointers on his way to a 20-point quarter.
That prompted Buttry to switch to a box-and-one defense in the second quarter with a chaser on Smith to try and slow him down.
The strategy worked, Smith only had four points the rest of the way.
The only problem was that opened up the floor for Carson, who scorched the Eagles for 38 points, 31 of which came after the defensive switch.
Even with Carson going wild, the Eagles were still able to claw their way back into the game on shear hustle and determination.
The comeback began with Andrew Miller, who entered the game in the second quarter. He quickly grabbed three rebounds and picked up two baskets to begin a 9-0 Southern run. Miller’s presence on the floor seemed to be a calming influence on the entire team.
In the second half when the Eagles crept to within one point — and they did it with hustle plays.
Kidwell picked up a steal on one end and went coast-to-coast for a three-point play.
Jefferson waded into the lane and came up with there big defensive rebounds to start fast breaks that ended in Eagles points.
And not once, but three times, Caleb Miller grabbed rebounds on shear hustle as he raced inside and took the ball away from bigger players..
s led three Eagles in double figures in the game with 24 points. Kidwell finished with 18 points and Trevor Huff added 15.
Caleb Miller had seven points, Devante Linville and Branden Sargent had six points apiece, Andrew Miller had five points, Jefferson had two points and Antonio Thrash had one point.