The Indians got a battle when they took on long-time rival Madison Southern last month in Berea.
They got a win, but they knew the rematch would be another tough test.
"They make you play," Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus said. "They make you play ugly with those zone defenses they play. But, sometimes you've got to find a way to win those ugly games."
The Indians (10-4) found a way to get another ugly win over the Eagles (4-7).
Central trailed by six points with 2:33 left, but closed the game on a 13-3 run to claim a 65-61 victory. Will Hardin had 25 points as the Indians pushed their winning streak to five games.
Jay Rose had 16 points for Southern.
"You gotta win ugly sometimes," Feldhaus said. "You just find a way to win."
The game featured six ties and eight lead changes, but Southern had a 10-point lead in the second quarter. The Eagles shot 52 percent from the field (6-of-11 from three-point range) in the opening half and took a 29-24 advantage into the break.
Southern's Trent DeVries had 11 points in the first half.
"In the first half, we weren't good defensively," Feldhaus said.
Hardin was 5-of-5 from the field in the first half and continued to get good looks at the basket the rest of the game. The junior was 11-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 at the free throw line.
"Mr. steady. If you just find Will Hardin, he is going to make something good happen," Feldhaus said. "It's not flashy, but he just has a calming effect on everybody."
The Eagles took a 58-52 lead on a lay-up by Zach Hudson late in the fourth quarter. Kole Browne, however, got Central right back in the game. The senior hit a three-pointer, then came up with a steal, went the length of the court and threw down a dunk.
Browne tied the game (59-59) with a pair of free throws with 1:36 left.
"That's what seniors are supposed to do," Feldhaus said.
Three free throws from Braeden Ray put the Indians back in front for good.
Kenyatta Hardge hit two free throws with one second left to seal the victory.
DeVries had 12 points, while Brett Erslan had 10 points and seven rebounds for Southern, which shot 45.5 from the field and had 17 turnovers. Hudson had nine points. Jayden Adams had seven points. Blake Simpson had five points and three assists and Walt Smith had two points, four assists and three rebounds.
Browne had 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Ray and Hardge (six rebounds) had nine points each. Taishon Chenault had four points, four rebounds and three assists, while Trey Skaggs had two points and two assists.
Central shot 53.5 percent from the field (2-of-11 three-pointers) and was 17-of-22 from the free throw line.
The Indians are set to return to action Sunday at home against Lexington Catholic.
Southern is set to return to action today at home against Perry County Central.
Patriots win third-straight
The Model Laboratory boys basketball team jumped out to an early double-digit lead and rolled to a third-straight win on Friday in McKee.
Nate Feese had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two assists as the Patriots (5-10) picked up a 67-62 victory over Jackson County (4-8). Bryson Perry had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Jerry Perry and Ethan Bailey had 15 points each.
Model shot 52 percent from the field for the game, including 7-of-15 from three-point range. The Patriots were also 21-of-33 from the free throw line.
Model led 20-10 after the first quarter and took a 33-23 lead into halftime.
Jackson Perry also had six rebounds and two steals. Bailey also had five assists and four rebounds, while hitting 8-of-11 free throws.
Thomas Luxon and John Benson had two points each for Model.
The Patriots are set to return to action Tuesday at home against Bluegrass United.
Lady Pirates won on buzzer-beater
Back on the court for the first time in almost three weeks, the Berea Community girls basketball team picked up an impressive victory — and did it in dramatic fashion.
Alexis Newman hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Lady Pirates (6-3) a 57-55 over South Laurel - last year's 13th Region championship. Newman finished with a team-best 17 points, including five three-pointers, and also added four rebounds and two assists.
Madison Howell had 16 points and six rebounds, while Mati Step had 15 points and five assists.
Berea trailed 16-10 after the first quarter and went into halftime trailing 34-22. South Laurel (9-7) had a 45-37 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Pirates shot 37 percent from the field, including 13-of-32 from three-point range, and hit 6-of-12 free throws.
Howell and Stepp both hit four three-pointers.
Maddy King had three points. Isis Rogers had two points, six rebounds and two assists. Chesney Lovins had two points, three assists and six rebounds. Mackenzie Howell had two points and six rebounds and Abigail Beard had three assists.
Berea had 16 assists on 19 field goals.
The Lady Pirates are set to return to action Monday against Shelby Valley in the opening round of the All "A" State Tournament at EKU's McBrayer Arena.