By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Madison Southern Lady Eagles (15-5) picked up the biggest win in coach Summer Simmons’ four season at the school, 52-49 over Lexington Catholic (13-9) on Friday.
Southern saw its 19-point fourth quarter whittled down to only two with 4.5 seconds left, but a Kristen Hayes free throw with 1.6 seconds to go sealed the win over the perennial 11th Region powerhouse.
The Lady Eagles played flawless basketball in the first half, blowing out to a 20-5 lead after one quarter and carried a 30-11 cushion into the half.
“That was the best half I’ve ever seen us play and that makes me ecstatic because it was against a very good team,” Simmons said. “I believe it was our best controlled, relaxed half of the year. We were moving the ball better than we’ve ever moved it and people were taking the right shots.”
The Southern offense worked with precision in building the lead, swinging the ball around until they found the open player for a good shot.
Rachel Ramey hit two open jumpers, followed quickly by a Kelly Freeman three-pointer, then Samantha Parms nailed a pair of jumpers and a long three-pointer in the first period.
Three-pointers by Freeman and Ramey and a free throw by Brianna Lanham to open the second quarter finished off a 16-0 run by the Lady Eagles.
In the second half, the Lady Knights began to chip away at the lead, but every time they needed a big basket the Lady Eagles found one.
After Catholic trimmed the lead to 41-27 early in the fourth quarter, Parms hit a three and Kristen Hayes hit a layup to push the lead back out to 46-27 with 4:40 to go.
Some poor free throw shooting over the final five minutes, including five straight misses, helped Catholic to creep closer. Southern finished only 3-of-10 on the night from the line.
Twice after the Lady Knights trimmed the lead to nine points and Southern seemed to be getting rattled, it was Lanham who stepped up and took control and settled her team down, getting two big baskets to stem the tide.
Parms came up with one of the biggest offensive rebounds of the night with 30 seconds remaining and the lead down to 50-44.
Lanham sank one-of-two free throws to make it 51-44 with 23 seconds left and the Lady Eagles were able to hang on.
Simmons said she’s tougher on Lanham than anyone on the team, but her star always comes through when they need her most.
“I’m on her (Lanham) a lot but I know what she can do and I expect a lot out of her. I know she can’t be perfect but I expect it sometimes, but she always gives it her all and tonight she really came through down the stretch,” Simmons said.
Simmons said her team’s work on the glass was huge in the game and it came from all over the floor.
“Rachel busted her butt before she got hurt in the third quarter. Kristen Hayes got on the offensive glass, Sam got a huge offensive board there at the end, they all did a good job on the boards,” Simmons said. “I give Catholic credit, they fought back. But that was a huge win. It worried me there at the end because of our free throws that helped their run. But I can’t ask for anything more against a team like that.”
Lanham finished with another double-double, 15 points and 15 rebounds. She also had three assists and two steals.
Parms had 13 points — including three three-pointers, four rebounds and two assists.
Hayes also had a double-double, 11 points and 10 rebounds as well as five assists and three steals, while Ramey had seven points and three rebounds, two assists and a steal before leaving with an injury, and Freeman added six points, a rebound, two assists and two steals.
The Lady Eagles are back in action Tuesday at Tates Creek.