By CHRIS STONER
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Floyd Central and Charlestown battled back and forth all night in an epic game that came down to the final horn.
The Highlanders’ Tori Kingsley hit a pair of free throws with three seconds left in regulation and then a 15-foot runner from the Pirates’ Justice Burdin fell just short as Floyd gritted out a 65-63 home victory on Wednesday night.
“They played their butts off,” Highlanders’ coach Kirk Hamsley said of Charlestown. “They did everything needed to win a game. We were fortunate at the end to get to the free-throw line and hit them to win the game.”
The Pirates (2-6) led 50-49 after three periods, but seven fourth-quarter turnovers and Floyd’s stellar free-throw shooting sealed the visitors fate in the end.
“Our missed free throws, turnovers and missed blockouts in the last two minutes is what stands out to me,” Charlestown coach Sam Terrell said. “Those three things cost us the game. We were doing exactly what we needed to do, and then in the last two minutes those three things killed us.”
The Highlanders (6-2) shot just 1-of-9 from the field in the fourth, but converted 14-of-16 foul-line attempts, compared to the Pirates’ 5-of-8 charity tries.
Floyd’s defense was on display early. The hosts forced 10 Charlestown giveaways in the opening frame, which helped the Green and Gold to a 15-7 lead at the first stop.
Then Kaitlynn Henning took over.
The sophomore guard pumped in 15 points in the second frame, including three 3-pointers, and propelled the Pirates to a 33-30 halftime lead.
Charlestown shot 62 percent over the first two periods as Henning and Burdin combined for all but four of their team’s first-half points.
“We just wanted to keep it going,” Terrell said of his team’s first-half play. “We knew what we wanted to do and to keep it up. But at the same time, we knew they were going to come out with some changes to disrupt us. For us to come here and have the lead at halftime, we were right where we wanted to be.”
The Highlanders, who are now 3-0 versus Mid-Southern Conference teams, trailed by as many as five points before Floyd Central’s Madison Kaiser poured in eight of her team-high 19 points in the third quarter that got her team within one heading to the fourth.
The home team shot just 32 percent overall, but were saved by its free-throw shooting and pressure defense. Floyd hit 25-of-33 free throws compared to the Pirates’ 11-of-15 and was plus-16 in the giveaway/takeaway category.
“We hit our free throws in those last two minutes and it was different kids stepping up and hitting them,” Hamsley said. “That’s nice to see.”
Wednesday night was Charlestown’s sixth road game in the first eight contests to start the season. Terrell made no bones about his team’s desire to get back home.
“I’d like to be at home the rest of the season,” Terrell quipped. “I do think the easier part of our schedule is upcoming. Not to say anyone is an easy game on our schedule, but I just think the rest of our schedule sets up well for us.”
Floyd will be back in action next Wednesday at Jeffersonville. Charlestown will return to the court on Saturday at home versus Mitchell.