At the beginning of the week, it appeared the Indians were getting it together in time for the 44th District Tournament.

Now, Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus isn’t so sure.

The Indians dropped their second-straight game Friday in Richmond, a 52-37 defeat at the hands of 11th Region-rival Franklin County in a game that was short on offense, especially for the home team. Central scored its lowest number of points of the season, only shot 22 percent in the second half and had one player hit more than two field goals.

“Our offense tonight was difficult to overcome, especially when you’re only a week away from the district tournament,” Feldhaus said. “It’s not like we haven’t played good at some points during the season. These last two games against Lexington Catholic and Franklin County, we’ve laid an egg. When you get this close to tournament time, we should be going in the other direction.”

Central (15-9) opened with a strong opening quarter, outscoring the Flyers 10-8. Senior Keshawn Simpson had four of the 10 points, and Terry Jarvis, Vince Clay and Shaq Smith all added field goals.

They only scored 12 points the next two quarters, as Franklin County (17-4) roared to a 22-17 lead at halftime behind the play of Ryan Conner. The Indians committed eight turnovers for nine points for the Flyers in the second quarter.

“As small as we are, we have to press people and if you can’t score, you can’t get into your press,” Feldhaus said. “That’s what killed us — missed shot after missed shot — and it led to us feeling sorry for ourselves. We never could get any rhythm. We could never get any momentum so we could pick up our pressure.”

JaQuentin Jenkins closed the gap to three early in the second half, 22-19, off a second-chance putback. It was the closest Central would get for the rest of the game.

“Effort-wise, we’ve always got JaQuentin,” Feldhaus said. “He’s averaging 10 rebounds but he’s struggling to score over the big guys. I know he’s going to give me the rebounds but he needs to score more.”

The Indians only had eight turnovers during the second half, but Franklin County shot 44 percent from the floor for the second half to roll to its fourth-straight win.

“It’s a hard matchup for us,” Feldhaus said. “I’m not making any excuses but you have to play what we were dealt. You have to hit shots. You can’t shoot 24 percent and expect to beat a good basketball team like Franklin County.”

Clay finished with a game-high 16 points off of 6-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-7 from long range. Simpson scored eight points, six of which were from the free-throw line, and Jenkins added four. Tyler Mays added three. Jarvis and Smith each had two points and Brenton Covington and Nick Ford both had a point.

“Vince is the only one who had any offense whatsoever,” Feldhaus said. “He hit three open threes and I thought he was pretty aggressive but you have to have more than that. You need more than one player to beat a top-notch team like they have. It was good to see him knock down open shots — that’ll help his confidence. He needs more help.”

Central has two more games before the district tournament, including a matchup with 11th Region powerhouse Scott County. Feldhaus said the time has come for his seven seniors to make a statement.

“These seniors are going to have to decide what they want out of the rest of the season,” he said. “I don’t think we have a lot of emotion and energy, the way you need to have at tournament time, especially in high school basketball in the state of Kentucky. When you’ve got seven seniors, you need to have some leadership. Someone needs to step up and say, ‘We’ve got to turn this thing around.’ other than me.”

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