By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
For the second time in three years, the Madison Central Lady Indians are headed to the Sweet 16 after a 45-34 wire-to-wire victory over Lafayette Monday in the championship game of the 11th Region Tournament.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. Two out of three isn’t bad,” a very happy Central coach Robbie Cooksey said after the game.
Senior Larryn Brooks led all scorers with 21 points, but Central got big contributions from everyone.
Ashton Feldhaus had 10 points, four rebounds and two big blocked shots in the game’s final minutes to help preserve Central’s lead.
Shadae Bosley finished with seven points, including six in a row in the second quarter to help give the Lady Indians an early lead. She also had three blocks, one when Lafayette had trimmed the Central down to two points at 32-30 and were trying to tie the game to begin the fourth quarter.
“Shadae was huge. She blocked shots, she rebounded, she scored some points for us in the paint,” Cooksey said. “What more can you ask for?”
Bailey O’Bryan scored four points, pulled down three rebounds and had one blocked shot. She also came up with a loose ball after a missed Lafayette shot and Central clinging to a 35-32 lead in the fourth quarter.
“Her four points were huge,” Cooksey said. “She got two layups and the assists and her defense was good all night. She played a great game.”
Heather Hinkle finished with three points, all from the free throw after being fouled on a three-point shot to open the fourth quarter, which gave Central a five-point lead. She also pulled down six rebounds and blocked a shot.
“She’s a senior and she knew what it takes to win games. She knows at times she doesn’t have to score but she does her job and she does her job well,” Cooksey said.
The Lady Indians also got three big minutes off the bench from Hailey Christian, who came in and pulled down three rebounds in relief of Hinkle, who was in foul trouble.
“Huge, huge minutes. That girl. I’ll tell you what. Ice water in her veins to come out and do that in that situation,” Cooksey said. “What do you say about these kids? They’ve been there, they’ve done it.”
Both teams came out tight and scoring was at a premium early.
It took three minutes before Brooks broke the ice with a layup.
Central set the tone for the game early with the help-side defense in their sagging zone making it impossible for Lafayette’s two big post players — Sarah Cooley and Ashanti Thomas — to get open for shots.
The Lady Indians held Lafayette to only two points and led 7-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Central stretched its lead to 20-10 on a jumpshot by Feldhaus in the lane with 2:11 to go in the half, but the Lady Generals regrouped and got to within six at 22-16 at the half.
“We got a foul or two but we were able to sag off and play their inside players very well, especially in the first half,” Cooksey said. “We gave up some offensive rebounds doing that, but the second half we shored that up a little bit and rebounded better. Just a great effort from our kids.”
As the two teams were warming up before the start of the second half, Cooksey went first to Feldhaus, then Brooks and then to Hinkle and had a quick word with each of them.
“I told them, 16 more minutes,” Cooksey said. “Sixteen more minutes of everything you have. Everything we’ve worked for depended on this.”
Lafayette scored the first five points of the third quarter, but Central quickly answered with a 6-2 spurt on baskets by Feldhaus and Brooks and free throws by Brooks and Bosley to push the lead back to 28-23.
The Lady Generals refused to quit and steadily trimmed the deficit to 32-30 on a long three pointer by Kenyale Demus with 10 seconds left.
Lafayette had a chance to tie the game on the first trip of the fourth quarter but Bosley came up with a blocked shot and Hinkle hit her three free throws on the other end to push the lead back to 35-30.
Thomas cut the lead to 35-32 and once again Lafayette had a chance to get even closer, but this time it was Feldhaus who blocked a Cooley shot with 3:33 left.
Brooks sank four straight free throws as Lafayette began fouling and the Lady Indians won going away.
“Just huge plays when we needed them most,” Cooksey said. “That’s the story. When we needed a play, they made a play.”
The Lady Indians will take on Notre Dame Academy at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 14 in Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.