Kristen Hayes had been waiting for this moment for a long time.
And she was ready.
After missing all of last season with a serious knee injury, the junior guard played a big role in a historic victory for Madison Southern. Hayes scored 33 points and had seven rebounds as the Lady Eagles (19-6) defeated Madison Central, 53-42, Friday in Richmond.
The win was the first for Madison Southern over its long-time rival in seven years. The Lady Eagles had lost 11 straight games to Madison Central, most of which had been decided by lopsided margins.
“We’ve dreamed of this moment for a long time,” Hayes said. “Every year we get cut short and this was the night we showed we are good enough.”
Southern got 14 points from sophomore forward Briana Lanham and won despite being out-rebounded 50-37 and shooting just 36 percent from the field.
“This is the game that’s in the back of our mind’s every year,” Southern coach Summer Simmons said. “Some of these kids have been playing since they were in the seventh grade and they know what it feels like. I’m glad for them and that they got to feel this.”
Central got 20 points and 13 rebounds from senior center Shadae Bosley and 14 points and 11 rebounds from Lindsay Johns.
The Lady Indians had a 37-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t overcome some very poor shooting. Central shot 22.5 percent from the field, including 20.5 percent (8-of-39) in the second half.
The Lady Indians were also just 1-of-19 from three-point range.
“We had 28 offensive rebounds, heck, if we put half of those back in its a different story,” Central coach Robbie Cooksey said. “It’s kind of like its been all year. We struggle to shoot the ball from the field.”
Hayes took control right away.
The junior had 10 points in the first quarter and at halftime she had 17 points on eight-of-nine shooting. Behind the play of Hayes, Southern took a 26-21 lead into halftime.
“We executed some of our plays really well, but when we saw that they weren’t letting us get in our sets easily Kristen just put her head down,” Simmons said. “In big games she does that.”
Bosley pushed Central back into the lead in the third quarter. She had four baskets and nine points in the period as the Lady Indians (13-14) took the lead three times.
“She did an excellent job,” Simmons said of Bosley. “They look for her and that’s what they need to do.”
Bosley was limited to just three points in the third quarter. Southern opened the final quarter on an 8-2 run, fueled by a pair of basket and a pair of free throws from Hayes.
“We just knew we had to knock down the shots,” Hayes said. “We had confidence in ourselves.”
Southern hit 12-of-14 free throws in the fourth to seal the win.
Marley Lawson had four points and Kelley Freeman added two points for Southern.
Central senior Bailey O’Bryan had eight points.
The Lady Eagles are set to return to action Wednesday in the opening round of the 44th District Tournament at McBrayer Arena against Berea.
Madison Central will take on Model on Tuesday in the opening round of the 44th District Tournament.