The Lady Indians felt a bit disrespected when they saw many of the preseason predictions.
The defending 44th District champions weren’t considered one of the top teams in the region by most publications.
“I think we should have been ranked higher and now we are showing them why,” Madison Central sophomore guard Eve Carter said.
The Lady Indians are doing just that.
Central moved to 3-0 on the season — and 2-0 against district competition — with a hard-fought 66-62 win over Berea Community on Wednesday in Richmond.
The Lady Pirates (0-2) battled back from an 18-point first half deficit to take the lead in the third quarter. Central, however, used a late 7-0 run to secure victory in a game that featured 46 fouls and 53 free throws.
Freshman Bailey Hensley had 22 points for the Lady Indians, while Carter added 21 points, six steals and five rebounds.
Madison Howell had a team-best 20 points for the Lady Pirates.
“We knew it was going to be really tough,” Central coach Brad Lovely said of the match-up with Berea. “It was our third game in three days, including one on the road. Our girls are tired, but our depth really played a big role tonight.”
Central opened the season with a win over district rival Model (66-29) on Monday, then picked up a 48-40 victory on the road against Menifee County.
The Lady Indians didn’t look tired, though.
They led 16-4 after the first quarter, then pushed to a 25-7 advantage.
“We had to show out for them,” Carter said.
Berea battled back.
The Lady Pirates missed 12 of their first 13 field goal attempts, but were able to get back within seven points at halftime (34-27).
Central had six players with two fouls at halftime.
Because of that foul trouble, the Lady Indians had nine players log more than 10 minutes.
Berea had a 45-41 lead on baskets by Mati Stepp and Isis Rogers with just more than a minute left in the third quarter.
Carter and Nataya Strader answered with back-to-back field goals to give Central a 49-46 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Pirates got within a point once in the fourth, but could never pull even or take the lead.
Central forced 40 turnovers, including 27 in the first half, which led to 43 points.
“Our goal is 27 (turnovers) a game,” Lovely said. “When I told them they had 40, they threw stuff everywhere in the locker room.”
Carter was 8-of-15 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line.
Hensley had a double-double against Model and was once a major factor on Wednesday. She was 9-of-9 from field and had five steals.
“(Bailey) is starting to figure things out and I told Eve, ‘You can go to the hole whenever you want to. They are going to speed you up, but they can’t stop you,’” Lovely said.
Stepp finished with 12 points for Berea. Rogers had eight points and five steals. Alexis Newman had seven points and five rebounds. Mackenzie Howell had six points and 12 rebounds. Abigail Beard had five points and six rebounds.
Berea forced 26 turnovers, which led to 31 points.
Chloe Freeman and Strader had five points each for Central. Raelynn Miller and Presley Lochmueller had four points each. Eden Carter had three points and Brittany Campbell had two points.
The Lady Indians will wrap up a busy first week of the season when they take on district rival Madison Southern on Friday at home.
“We’ve got 24 hours to get ready for another one,” Lovely said.
Berea is set to return to action Saturday at Woodford County.