BEREA -- First-year coach Allie Turley got his first win at the school as Madison Southern rolled to a dominant victory Monday in the season opener against Powell County.
"The girls executed what we've been working on all summer. I am so glad to have gotten this win and I was glad it was here at home for the girls. The biggest thing I was looking for tonight, was that defensive effort… I wanted to see that intensity and that focus," Turley said after the game.
The Lady Eagles delivered.
Debuting an uptempo and aggressive defensive style, Madison Southern pounded Powell County 74-39.
Junior Samantha Cornelison and senior Aleigh Richardson led the way with 20 points each as the Lady Eagle defense forced the Lady Pirates into costly turnovers.
"Sam and Aleigh, they both really stepped up... Their effort and their play on the floor spoke volumes. They were ready to play and everybody fed off that," Turley said.
The Lady Eagles raced out on an impressive 18-0 run to begin the game -- powered by four consecutive three-pointers from Cornelison.
Southern kept up the pace and limited the Lady Pirates to just eight points in the first quarter.
"Honestly I didn't even realize we were up by that much. (Turley) wants us to play fast-paced and he never wants us to let the intensity go down. All I kept thinking, was that we have to keep pushing, if we take a break they are going to come back," Cornelison explained.
So the Lady Eagles never stopped.
To start the second quarter, Richardson had a fast-break layup to spark an 8-2 run.
Macie Daniels added some free throws during the run and Sunni Walters snatched up a steal and raced down the court for a layup to make it 38-19.
Back-to-back layups from Richardson gave Southern a 21-point lead at halftime over Powell County, 42-21.
Richardson said the Lady Eagles have worked hard all summer to implement Turley's new system -- and that has paid off.
"We wanted to come out really intense and get it going. We wanted to get the win. We were ready to play. We just want to cause a lot of chaos on the defensive side and put a lot of pressure on the other team… (Turley) has helped us pick up the intensity a lot. We have a lot of work to do and he is pushing us really hard… Tonight, we put it together and got the win," Richardson explained.
In the third quarter, the Lady Eagles came out strong once again and blasted Powell County with a 22-2 run to take a 64-23 lead.
During the run, Richardson deflected a Powell County pass and then recovered the ball by diving into the stands and throwing it back onto the floor to Morgan Flannery.
The sophomore point guard raced down the court for a layup.
"We want to share the ball. The girls are really starting to understand that ball movement and what it can do. I think they are getting stronger and realize that if we can stop people then we can turn that into some great offense," Turley said.
The Lady Eagles defense limited the Lady Pirates to just four points in the third quarter.
Powell County took advantage in the fourth quarter to go on a scoring spurt with an 8-0 run, but it wasn't enough.
Cornelison finished the game with four threes and was a perfect eight-of-eight from the free throw line. The junior also had seven rebounds and six steals on Monday.
"I've been working a lot on my shot and today was just a good day for me, I guess. I just wanted to help my team," Cornelison said.
Richardson had eight rebounds. Daniels had nine points and a team-high eight rebounds. Skylar Sparks had eight points, five rebounds and four assists. Flannery had eight points. Walters had five points while Hallie Harrison contributed four points.
The Lady Eagles were 16-of-20 from the charity stripe on Monday.
"I'm very proud of them," Turley said of his team. "We played a whole game tonight and they executed what we've been working on well."
The Lady Eagles will face defending 11th Region champion Scott County in Georgetown next on Wednesday.