By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Madison Central’s three seniors — Larryn Brooks, Ashton Feldhaus and Heather Hinkle — have accomplished some very remarkable things on the court in the past few years.
They’ve taken the Lady Indian program to new levels and they’ve built a legacy that no other senior class in school history can match.
Still, they have more goals to accomplish.
Central is set to make its second appearance in the KHSAA Girls Sweet 16 in the past three years. In 2011, the Lady Indians lost in the opening round to eventual state champion Rockcastle County.
This time around, they plan on hanging around in Bowling Green for a few more days.
“We’d never been there before,” Central senior Ashton Feldhaus said. “So, I think just experiencing the whole thing (was big). It was fun for us. We made history, so anything else was just a bonus. It was special. This time, we have a little bit different agenda. We want to win a game. We knew what to expect. We will be ready.”
Madison Central (29-4) is set to take on Notre Dame Academy (26-5) at 9 p.m. today at Diddle Arena on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
The winner advances to Friday’s quarterfinals to take on either Marshall County or Letcher County Central.
“It would be special (to win some games),” Central coach Robbie Cooksey said. “We want to bring home more than a t-shirt. We want to bring home some hardware.”
Central’s senior class has also earned a remarkable amount of hardware during their high school careers.
In the past four seasons, they have led the Lady Indians to 108 wins (only 21 losses), four district titles, three 11th Region championship games and two appearances in the Sweet 16.
Feldhaus and Brooks each have more than 1,000 career points and both have already signed with Division I schools.
Two years ago, Central made its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 and nearly pulled off a stunning upset. The Lady Indians fell to Rockcastle County in the first round, 52-55.
Getting back to Diddle Arena this year wasn’t easy. Central survived a tough first-round matchup with Scott County in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament, 58-56, then had to battle past Dunbar, 55-48, in the semifinals.
In the championship game, the Lady Indians defeated Lafayette, 45-34.
For those three seniors, the second title was just as sweet as the first.
“We knew that if we lost, we go home and that’s it for us here at Central,” Brooks said. “We wanted to make this special.”
Madison Central and Notre Dame have already met once this season. The teams battled in the championship game of the Berea Holiday Classic on Dec. 16 at Berea College.
The Lady Indians trailed early, but shot 49 percent, out-rebounded the Lady Pandas, 31-26, and picked up a 61-51 win.
Feldhaus had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Brooks had 20 points and four assists in a hard-fought win.
Central held Notre Dame senior forward Olivia Voskuhl to just 15 points in the first game, about five points below her season average, and containing her could be the key to the Lady Indians earning a first-ever state tournament game.
“We are not expecting to hold her scoreless,” Cooksey said of Voskuhl said. “But, I think Ashton did a good job (defenesively) on her in the last time. She held her to 15 points. If we can get a repeat performance like that, we feel like we can hold our own.”
The rematch will likely once again be a contrast in styles. The bigger, more physical Lady Pandas like to play a slower, half-court game, while the Lady Indians like to run the court and press.
Notre Dame is averaging only 57 points a game, but comes into the Sweet 16 on a 15-game winning streak. The Lady Pandas are also allowing just 41 points a game.
“All their offense goes through one player,” Feldhaus said of Voskuhl. “She is their best player. They look for her. They are all shooters and they are all fundamentally sound.”
Even though Central won the first meeting between the teams, Notre Dame is considered the favorite by several rankings.
According to the Cantrall rankings, the Lady Pandas are the second-best team in the Sweet 16, while the Lady Indians are eighth.
“We are fine being the underdog,” Cooksey said. “That puts more pressure on them than us. I don’t how much ranking play into things. I know people read the paper and that’s kind of how they form their opinions. We are going to let our play on the court do the talking.”
Register Staff Report
Madison Central coach Robbie Cooksey was recently selected as the 11th Region Coach Of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches.
In addition, Central senior point guard Larryn Brooks has been named the 11th Region Player of the Year by the KABC.
Cooksey and Brooks and will receive their awards at halftime of the first game of Friday’s afternoon session of the Girls Sweet 16 at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. The KABC will sponsor a reception for all award winners and families at the Jack and Jackie Harbaugh Stadium Club in Houchens Smith Stadium on Friday.
Madison Central defeated Lafayette, 45-34, last week to win the 11th Region Tournament and earn a spot in the 11th Region Tournament.
The Lady Indians (29-4) are set to meet Notre Dame Academy (26-5) at 9 p.m. today in the opening round of the state tournament.
In four seasons at Central, Cooksey has a 108-21 record and has led the school to four district titles, three appearances in the 11th Region championship game and two regional titles.
Brooks is averaging 19 points a game and was recently named one of five finalists for this year’s Ms. Basketball Award.
The senior point guard has scored more than 1,000 points in her career and has already signed with Indiana University.