Chesney Lovins didn't hesitate.
"I just knew I had to go up strong," Lovins said.
With the Lady Pirates trailing by a point and just 1:16 left in regulation, the junior drove into the lane, found the basket and drew the foul. That three-point play put Berea Community (1-0) back in front for good.
The Lady Pirates finished the game on a 11-4 run which propelled them to a 55-51 win over 44th District rival Madison Central (0-1) on Tuesday at home in the season opener for both teams. Madison Howell had 18 points for Berea, while Bailey Hensley finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Indians.
"They've got a really good group," Berea Community coach Dammian Stepp said of Central. "Those kids played hard. Down the stretch it was important for us to keep our composure and finish the game out. We had some experienced players who stepped up."
Central had a seven-point lead (24-17) at halftime, but the Lady Pirates surged back to carry a two-point advantage (35-33) into the final period.
The fourth quarter featured two ties and six lead changes. Central was up 44-41 after a pair of free throws by Nataya Strader with 2:48 left. After a three-pointer by Newman tied the game, the Lady Indians once again went on top by three points.
Mati Stepp had 12 points and four assists for Berea. Alexis Newman had 11 points. Lovins finished with six points and 12 rebounds. Isis Rogers, Maddy King, Abi Beard and Mackenzie Howell each had two points.
Kessaney Melton had 12 points and seven rebounds for Central. Brittany Campbell had eight points, seven rebounds, six steals and four assists. Strader had six points. Eden Carter had five points and four rebounds. Tiana Long added two points.
The teams combined for 39 turnovers (22 both Berea). The Lady Indians were 1-of-11 from three-point range.
Central is set to return to action Friday at Rockcastle County.
Berea is set to return to action Dec. 7 at Lafayette.
Lady Eagles win on road
Reece Estep had 16 points and Hadley French finished with 13 points as the Madison Southern girls basketball team opened the season with a 55-34 win over East Jessamine on Tuesday in Nicholasville.
Jada Carter had nine points and Morgan Flannery added eight points.
The Lady Eagles (1-0) scored the first eight points of the game and had a 14-10 lead after one quarter. They were up 23-20 at halftime.
Macie Daniels had five points and Laci Sandlin and Bella Moberly had two points each.
Southern is set to return to action Friday at Whitley County.