By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Madison Southern Eagles fell 68-51 to the Russell County Lakers Tuesday spoiling the senior night send off for 11 Eagles seniors.
The game had a very emotional start as Coach Shane Buttry inserted senior Roger Rose into the starting lineup.
The move came as a surprise to everyone in the building including Rose, who has not played the entire year due to illness.
The Lakers, who last week beat Madison Central, didn’t waste any time jumping on top of the Eagles, roaring out to an 8-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes.
Eagle star Tyler Abshear finally broke the scoring drought for Southern with back-to-back baskets to cut the lead in half at 8-4.
Russell County dominated the backboards and quickly built the lead back up to 19-6 with just over a minute to play in the quarter.
A free throw by Damien Harris and a three pointer by Mike Rothermel with four seconds left pulled Southern to within 20-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers didn’t let up and quickly scored the first eight points of the second quarter to extend the lead to go up 28-12 midway through the quarter.
Abshear once again was the offense for the Eagles in the quarter, scoring Southern’s last six points of the quarter, but Russell County continued to build on its lead and went to the locker room up 37-16.
Southern was able to mount a fight in the second half and fought their way back to within six points late in the fourth quarter and had an opportunity to get even closer but could not convert and the Lakers held on for the win.
Southern Coach Shane Buttry said he felt that if his team had converted on that crucial play late in the fourth quarter there might have been a different outcome.
"We cut it to six and had a two-on-one fast break and missed a layup and then they went down and scored. Instead of being down four we were down eight and that was huge," Buttry said. "We got down by 13 with about two minutes to go so because it was senior night I put the rest of the seniors in the rest of the way."
Abshear led the way for the Eagles with a team-high 23 points. Mike Rothermel finished with 13 and Damien Harris had 11.
Buttry said he was happy with the effort he saw from his team in the second half.
"The effort was incredible in the second half and it is something we can learn from," Buttry said. "If we play that hard like we did in the second half, the rest of the week, we are going to be in good shape going into the district tournament and that's what we're working toward this week."