By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Despite committing 26 turnovers on Friday night at The Doghouse, Floyd Central found a way to pull out a 52-46 victory over Jennings County in the Class 4A New Albany Sectional semifinals.
On Saturday night in the sectional championship, the Highlanders were not so lucky.
Floyd Central committed 29 turnovers and fell to Class 4A No. 2 and undefeated Bedford North Lawrence, 54-34.
The Highlanders recorded a season-low point total as they finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 12-12 record.
“The kids gave everything they got,” Floyd Central coach Kirk Hamsley said. “I thought defensively we did an unbelievable job. I thought they really struggled with our defense. The kids did what we asked them to do.
“We just struggled offensively against their press enough to keep us off the offensive end from the middle of the third [quarter] to the fourth.”
For the defending sectional champion Stars (24-0), it was the first time they have won back-to-back sectional titles since they claimed 16 consecutive championships from 1982-97. It was Bedford’s 22nd sectional crown overall.
The Stars’ sectional championship sets up a major Class 4A showdown in next Saturday’s Class 4A Bedford Regional as they will take on Class 4A No. 1 and defending state runner-up Columbus North (25-0) in the second semifinal.
“For these kids, as young as we are, it’s exciting because we are going to have the opportunity to do some very special things,” Stars’ coach Kurt Godlevske said.
The Highlanders fell behind early as the Stars bolted out to a 15-1 lead with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter.
But Floyd Central fought back by ending the stanza with nine unanswered points to trail 15-10. The Highlanders’ final points of the period came off a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer by junior guard Brooke Hinton from three-quarter court.
After Hinton’s dramatic 3, Floyd Central only got outscored 13-11 in the second quarter and trailed by just seven points at halftime at 28-21.
“That was a big lift. Brooke played amazing. She was a great leader for us tonight,” Hamsley said about Hinton’s long-distance 3. “I just thought if we could keep defending, we would be able to start making some buckets.”
But following intermission, Bedford stepped up its full-court pressure defense and made life miserable for the Highlanders.
In the third quarter, Floyd Central scored only eight points and turned the ball over nine times as the Stars built a 43-29 advantage. Bedford then extended its lead to 20 points early in the fourth period by scoring the first six points of the stanza.
“Defensively, we just got after it in the second half. It just came down to our kids wanting it,” Godlevske said. “Our pressure started to get to them and they started to get a little fatigued. But their kids battled the whole time.”
Sophomore Madison Kaiser paced the Highlanders with 14 points, tallying 12 in the first half. Hinton had 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Floyd Central says goodbye to two seniors in starting forwards Tori Kingsley and Niki Bruno.
“They’ve been good senior leaders and good strong post players,” Hamsley said. “They did everything we asked. They were great leaders and great seniors.”
Sophomore forward Dominique McBryde paced the Stars with a game-high 23 points. Teammate Alexa Bailey — the daughter of former Bedford standout, Indiana University star and the state’s all-time leading boys’ scorer Damon Bailey — had eight points and a game-high four steals. Also for the Stars, Jenna Allen grabbed a team-high six rebounds and Samantha Dillman had game-highs in assists (four) and steals (four).