By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
Madison Southern hung tough with Scott County in the first half of its 11th Region Tournament opener Monday, but frigid second-half shooting by the Eagles helped the Cardinals pull away for a 68-47 win.
Tyler Abshear almost single-handedly kept the Eagles close, scoring 18 first-half points as Southern only trailed 41-30 at the half.
Southern scored six of the first nine points of the second half on a basket and two free throws by Drew Taylor and two free throws by Abshear to cut the Scott County lead to eight at 44-36.
But from that point, the Eagles went stone cold from the floor going scoreless the final 5:52 of the third quarter as Scott County stretched its lead to 50-36 after three quarters.
Mike Rothermel opened the fourth quarter with a three pointer, the Eagles’ only field goal until Roger Rose hit a short jumpshot with 1:30 left in the game.
“We went ice cold. Our defense was good, we just couldn’t make a shot,” Southern coach Shane Buttry said. “It wasn’t a 20-point game. We had some shots rim in and out and then we forced some shots too. If we had hit a few of them it would have made it interesting.”
The Southern defense was good most of the night.
As a matter of fact, after the Eagles cut the lead to eight points mid-way through the third quarter, they had four consecutive stops on defense but were unable to convert the points on the other end to cut further into the lead.
Buttry credited a defensive change by Scott County coach Billy Hicks for some of the scoring drought.
After watching Abshear scorch his defense for 18 first-half points, many on drives to the basket, Hicks substituted 6-foot-9 inch Jordan Tribble into the game with the sole purpose of taking away Abshear’s drives.
The move worked well, as Abshear was limited to only four free throws the rest of the game.
“The left Tribble in the game because Tyler was going to the basket on them in the first half when we ran our pick and roll,” Buttry said. “In the second half they just dropped him back in the paint and when Tyler got in there he had 6-foot-8 standing there. That made it hard to score in the middle and we missed some shots and it just sort of avalanched from there.”
Abshear finished with 22 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal in his final game for the Eagles.
Drew Taylor and Mike Rothermel also had very good games in their final appearances for Southern. Rothermel had nine points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Taylor finished with eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Jake Napier had four points and four rebounds, senior Roger Rose, a crowd favorite, had three points and one rebound, much to the delight of both cheering sections, while Chance Norris added one point.
Southern finished with a 17-12 record on the year and Buttry praised his team’s hard work the entire season.
“Our guys gave a heck of an effort. We played hard the whole time and I’m proud of them,” Buttry said. “I think we had a great season. Our guys over-achieved quite a bit. This group of seniors has been good for our program and they will be hard to replace next year.”