The Indians know they will likely have to beat Lexington Catholic (12-0) to win the 11th Region Tournament.
So, they were eager for a chance to face the undefeated Knights on Sunday afternoon in Richmond.
"We told (our players) that this game really didn't mean anything, other than we want to play good teams and see where we stand," Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus said of the impromptu match-up with Lexington Catholic. "We've got a month and half before we might see them again."
The Indians (10-5) didn't back down from the challenge.
Central hit a season-best 14 three-pointers and led for most of the first half, but Mr. Basketball candidate Ben Johnson led Lexington Catholic to an 80-65 victory.
The senior guard had 28 points, eight assists and six rebounds as the Knights shot 60 percent from the field and had three other players reach double figures in scoring.
Will Hardin had a team-best 20 points for the Indians, who had their five-game winning streak snapped.
"They are good - and it's not just Johnson. They play well together. They pass the ball," Feldhaus said of LexCath. "They are hard to double because they find the open man and get lay-ups."
Johnson had 14 points at halftime as the Knights took a 41-39 lead into the break.
The senior took over in the second half. He scored Catholic's first nine points in the third quarter as the visitors built a 12-point advantage.
"It all starts with him," Feldhaus said of Johnson. "He's really, really good, but he also knows how to make this team better."
The Indians used good outside shooting to lead by as much as six points in first and second quarters.
Central was 8-of-12 from three-point range in the first half, including a 3-of-4 performance from Hardin.
For the game, the Indians were 14-of-25 percent from long range (56 percent), with Braeden Ray knocking down 6-of-8 attempts and Taishon Chenault going 3-of-5 from three-point range.
"It's the best three-point shooting team we've had here," Feldhaus said. "We've had probably five games (this season) where we had double-digit three-pointers."
Central had a 36-33 lead late the second quarter, but the Knights finished the half on a 8-3 run - which included a couple of Johnson baskets - to take a two-point lead into the break.
The Knights had 17 assists on 35 field goals and turned the ball over just five times against Central's pressure.
Catholic also out-rebounded the Indians, 33-19, and had 13 second-chance points.
Ray had 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Chenault had 11 points and four rebounds. Kole Browne had nine points and five assists. Trey Skaggs had seven points and four assists.
The Indians used only six players and all five starters played at least 25 minutes, with Hardin and Browne never leaving the court.
Central could have sophomore guard Jaylen Davis (personal/family reasons) back in the line-up this week.
"We've just got to figure some things out between now and the next time we play them," Feldhaus said of Catholic.
The Indians are set to return to action Thursday at Bourbon County.