By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The Lady Indians needed a big second-half rally to get past Scott County Wednesday in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament.
That hard-fought, come-from-behind victory put Madison Central into the regional semifinals for the fourth-straight year and set up a rematch of last year’s championship game.
The Lady Indians (27-4) are set to face Dunbar (17-11) at 1:30 p.m. today at McBrayer. The winner advances to the championship game on Tuesday to take on either Lafayette or Franklin County.
“We shot 64 percent from the free throw line and 32 percent from the field,” Central coach Robbie Cooksey said of his team’s 58-56 win over Scott County. “That won’t win our next game.”
The Lady Indians will certainly have to play better if they are going to beat a team that has kind of become their nemesis in the past year.
In last season’s 11th Region Tournament title game, Madison Central had a huge first-half lead, but Dunbar stormed back to pick up a shocking 75-60 victory.
And just three weeks ago, the Lady Bulldogs knocked off the Lady Indians, 67-57, in Richmond on Senior Night. Dunbar used a 14-3 run in the third quarter to take control and held on for the win.
Those painful losses are still fresh in the mind of the Central coaching staff and players.
“I think it’s more motivation than anything,” Cooksey said of the losses to Dunbar. “As a player you tend to remember who beat you, especially the team that beat you in the 11th Region championship. Then they come back and beat you on your Senior Night. I think they are very aware of the challenge that is ahead of them.”
In both the losses in the past year to Dunbar, the Lady Indians have had a very difficult time slowing down four-guard lineup. Senior Lexus Edwards had 25 points in last month’s game in Richmond, while Jordin Fender and ShaKeema Jackson had 11 points each.
“They’ve got four kids who are as fast as (Central senior point guard) Larryn (Brooks) and faster than anyone else we have on our team,” Cooksey said. “The big thing for us is we’ve got to eliminate transition baskets. We’ve got to get back and that all starts with us hitting shots.”
The Lady Bulldogs also have some size.
Senior forward Lakeena Parks (5-foot-10) leads the team in scoring (12.2 points a game) and is second in rebounding (7.6 rebounds a game). Junior Brooke Todd (6-foot-1 forward) is averaging 9.1 points a game and a team-best 7.8 rebounds a game.
“It’s going to be a tough match-up for us,” Cooksey said. “They are more athletic than us. They are deeper than us. We’ve just got to dig down and play good basketball.”
While Dunbar was rolling past Frankfort, 73-55, in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament, the Lady Indians were struggling to defeat Scott County.
Central trailed by two points at halftime and were down 36-31 in the third quarter. The Lady Indians rallied behind their senior duo of Brooks and Ashton Feldhaus.
Feldhaus had 26 points and 13 rebounds and Brooks had 23 points and three assists. But, Central only got nine other points from the rest of their lineup, all of which came at the free throw line.
“We’ve got to have some balance scoring. Heather (Hinkle) and Bailey (O’Bryan) were able to step up and hit some free throws for us, but we need them to put it in the basket,” Cooksey said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world that they are going to do that. This is not their first time around. They will be OK.”