By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but the Madison Central Lady Indians did just enough to pull out a 58-56 come-from-behind win over Scott County in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament Wednesday at McBrayer Arena.
It took monster efforts by Central’s dynamic duo of Ashton Feldhuas and Larryn Brooks to pull this one out on a night when the other Lady Indians struggled on both ends of the floor.
Feldhaus was a warrior all night, scoring 26 points — 19 in the first half — while pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds.
Brooks had six first-half points, but finished with 23 points on the night — 12 from the free throw line— three assists and one steal.
The Lady Indians advance to Saturday’s semifinal (1:30 p.m.), where they will take on Dunbar in a rematch of last year’s 11th Region championship game.
Central coach Robbie Cooksey was happy to pick up the win, but not with his team’s performance against the Lady Cardinals.
“We got very, very lucky tonight,” Cooksey said. “I told them when we were done, ‘You can’t shoot 64 percent from the free throw line and 30 percent from the field and beat your next opponent.’ It just won’t happen.”
Things looked pretty good for Central early on as Feldhaus dominated the game scoring 11 points and pulling down five rebounds in the first quarter and the Lady Indians led 17-12 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, Tereka Guyn single-handedly willed Scott County into the lead, scoring 12 points to give Scott County a 28-23 lead with 40 seconds left in the half.
But Feldhaus once again came to the rescue and drained a long three pointer to pull Central to within two, 28-26 at the half.
Scott County came out of the locker room in the second half and took the fight to the Lady Indians and completely dominated the backboards as they steadily built a 36-31 lead forcing Cooksey to call a timeout with 3:40 left in the quarter.
The Central coach became very animated during the timeout and the Lady Indians must have gotten the message because from that point on, it looked like a different team.
For the first time in the game, Central’s press began to force turnovers, Shadae Bosley, Feldhaus and Heather Hinkle suddenly began crashing the boards and the Lady Indians went on a 15-6 run to take a 45-40 lead after three quarters.
“We were pretty vocal during the timeout. No profanity or anything like that, but pretty vocal. We got to the point where we had to do something right then or we weren’t going to be able to do anything else,” Cooksey said. “We asked the kids, ‘Where do you want to take your jersey off? Do you want to take it off here at Eastern or at Western.’ We challenged them to challenge the ball and to rebound. The kids really responded excellently after that.”
In the fourth quarter Scott County refused to go away and cut the Central lead down to 45-43, but Brooks began to control the ball and the Lady Indians never let the Lady Cards get any closer as they hit just enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.
Other than Feldhaus and Brooks, no other Lady Indian had a field goal in a game that saw Central shoot 21-of-66 for 31 percent from the floor and only 25-of-39 from the free throw line for 64.1 percent. Bosley had six points, Hinkle had two points and Bailey O’Bryan had one point, all which came from the free throw line.
The less-than-stellar free throw shooting, Cooksey said, will not get it done against their upcoming opponents.
“We were very fortunate tonight. We would hit one free throw, then miss one, we just couldn’t put it in,” Cooksey said. “It doesn’t help for us to get fouled and go one-for-two, especially in a tight game, you’ve got to go two-for-two. If they were hitting shots we would have had a hard time because the free throws would have hurt us tonight.”
With a couple of days before their rematch with Dunbar on Saturday night, Cooksey said the team would work on its shooting.
“We have to work on that. We got back to the drawing board tomorrow and we start shooting shots,” Cooksey said. “It’s a confidence thing. A lot of it is that we were settling for a three point jumper when a lot of times to get yourself started you need to go to the hole and get a shot or get yourself fouled. It’s something we will work on.”