By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW WASHINGTON —
The two first-round games of the Class 4A New Albany Sectional went according to plan on Tuesday night at The Doghouse.
Floyd Central built a 22-point lead in the third quarter and proceeded to defeat Jeffersonville in the sectional opener, 62-48. In the nightcap, Class 4A No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence stayed undefeated by trouncing the host Bulldogs, 66-27.
The Highlanders (11-11) will take on Jennings County (8-12) in Friday’s first semifinal at 6 p.m. at The Doghouse. In the second semi, the Stars (22-0) will face Seymour (9-12) at about 8 p.m.
Leading 19-8 midway through the second quarter, the Highlanders closed out the period with an 8-1 run to go up 27-19 at halftime.
That momentum carried over into the second half. Floyd Central maintained its eight-point lead in the first two minutes of the third quarter before reeling off 14 unanswered points to go up 46-24 with about two minutes left in the stanza.
Highlanders’ coach Kirk Hamsley said switching to a 1-3-1 zone defense after an early timeout helped turn the game completely in their favor.
“We wanted to change defenses on timeouts and dead-ball situations, and I thought we did a pretty good job of doing that to keep them off-balanced,” Hamsley said. “When we played man-to-man defensively, we did a pretty nice job throughout the whole game I thought.”
The Red Devils (7-14) tried to make things interesting. They sliced their deficit to 57-45 after Jeff guard Taylor Hines converted a three-point play with 2:05 left in regulation. After two free throws by Floyd Central’s Madison Kaiser, the Red Devils’ Nichole Midgett hit a 3-pointer with about a minute left to pull Jeff to within 59-48.
But it was too little, too late.
“I didn’t think we played like we wanted to win the game,” Jeff coach Matt Pait said. “We got down early and it was too much to fight back from. We just let them take it to us tonight. Floyd Central played extremely well the first three quarters and we didn’t fight. In the last quarter, we played hard and we fought and made it a contest.”
Kaiser had an outstanding floor game for the Highlanders. She had 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists, all game-highs. Kaiser shot 7-of-14 from the field and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line along with a pair of steals.
“She did it all tonight,” Hamsley said. “She was flying around the floor. Early in the year, she was trying to become a jump shooter and that’s not who she is. She has really come back to what she is, which is a slasher and attacking the basket.”
Haley Vogen led the Red Devils with 15 points and seven rebounds. Teammates Chelsea Lewis and Aurreeshae Hines each scored six points.
Jeff says goodbye to three seniors in Midgett, Taylor Hines and Taylor Davis.
The Bulldogs (9-12) had no answer for Bedford’s Brittani Rizzi.
The junior guard scored a game-high 27 points, as she got all of her points from behind the 3-point arc. Rizzi hit nine 3-pointers, as all 13 of her field-goal attempts were from 3-point range.
“We needed to play man and we didn’t. We just couldn’t play man, not with the injuries and the sickness we’ve been battling. We went out and hoped for the best,” New Albany coach Tammy Geron said. “She had a phenomenal night. She hit shots and when she can hit shots, it was going to be a long night.”
The Bulldogs also could not slow down the Stars’ Dominique McBryde. The sophomore forward had 19 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-9 from the stripe. She grabbed a game-high nine rebounds along with four assists and a game-high three steals.
Teammate Jenna Allen had 11 points and six boards, and Bedford guard Samantha Dillman dished out a game-high six assists.
Senior guard Tanner Marcum paced New Albany with 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting while playing on a sprained ankle. She also grabbed five boards.
“She played phenomenal,” Geron said. “I can’t believe she played as much as she did as well as she did. I know she’s in a lot of pain. For her to fight through that and still try to come out here and perform the best for her teammates shows she has exceptional character.”
Lauren Camm chipped in nine points. Marcum was the only senior on New Albany’s roster.