Lady Panthers escape Floyd
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Floyd Central Lady Highlanders had upset on their minds Saturday afternoon when they came into the Corydon Central gymnasium. For four quarters, the Lady Highlanders withstood the Lady Panthers swarming defense and sent the game into overtime. At the end, however, Floyd Central came up one shot short, falling by a 68-65 deficit.
“Hopefully we learned a lot,” said Corydon Central coach Josh Conrad. “Hopefully we learned we need to move the basketball a little bit and get more inside-out shots. Defensively, pressure without creating their offense. I think tonight we created their offense some but they’re a pretty good group that’s going to pay attention and they’re going to get back in it on Monday and do some work.”
Like they have against so many opponents this season, the Lady Panthers went right at Floyd Central at the beginning of the game running out to a 16-7 lead. Keegan Kaiser and Nora Gibson later closed that gap to four with three-balls, 19-15. Corydon Central’s Ava Weber finished out the quarter with a deuce and freebie, and the Lady Panthers’ lead was back to seven at the end of the period, 22-15.
The two team teams traded points in the early going of the second period, then Bailey Orme drilled a three, extending Corydon Central’s lead to nine. Weber extended that to 11 from the charity stripe, but Kendall Brown and Natalya Gaines countered with four. Orme drilled another three and Weber added a single, but Kaiser and Samara Miller put in the next six. Josie Vaughn sank a Corydon Central three. Both teams finished with five points each to end the half, and the Lady Panthers had a 41-33 advantage at halftime.
“We wanted to keep the ball out of Kaiser’s hands,” Conrad said. “That didn’t work out very well. We wanted to try to go at their defense and try to get them in a little bit of foul trouble. Our post players are pretty strong for us. We kind of did that at times, and there was some times we went away from it. I think we need to do a better job going inside-out because those are higher percentage shots.”
The Floyd Central defense kicked in during the third period, holding Corydon Central to just seven points. The Lady Highlanders got threes from Kaiser, Miller and Brown, and the Lady Highlanders had a 48-46 edge going into the fourth quarter.
Most of that final quarter was spent with the two teams trading baskets. Kaiser and Gibson later gave the Lady Highlanders a four-point edge with less than two minutes to go. Then, with under a minute to go, Kaiser gave the Lady Highlanders a 61-56 advantage. Weber, however, wiped that away in the last 40 seconds with five to send the game into overtime.
Fouls took their toll in the extra period. Floyd Central was already without CJ Celichowski at the end of regulation, and Vaughn had her fourth early in the OT. Gibson then fouled out for the Lady Highlanders as did Corydon Central’s Morgan Adams.
Corydon Central went up by three early in the overtime, but Kaiser kept Floyd Central on track with two free throws, closing the gap to one. Maddy Hamelman tied the game at 65 with a free throw. Corydon Central finished the game out with three free throws. Miller got a three-pointer off just before the buzzer but that was knocked away by Gracie Wate and the Lady Panthers had the 68-65 win.
“We were saying it was so easy getting into the passing lanes and we didn’t have a team go across us,” Conrad said. “We needed that. We were dropping pretty good, but we didn’t get all of the way back. We’d drop back to the middle, but we needed to drop back 10 more feet because that’s where they were. Hopefully it’s something we can watch on tape do a little better at it.”
Weber led the winners with 29 points, and Josie Vaughn finished with 12. Jaiden Cantrell added 10 for the Lady Panthers, who put in 20 of 46 field goals (43%) and 23 of 31 free throws. Corydon Central finished with 15 turnovers, 13 of those in the second half.
“Ava is just a really good athlete,” Conrad said. “She’s light on her feet. She can get to the rim just about any way you want her to get to the rim. She just does an incredible job. When she gets the ball and her place, if she’s not got two people on her, she’s probably going to score.”
Kaiser had a big day with 22 for the day for the Lady Highlanders. Miller finished with 12, and Kendall Brown had 10. Floyd Central put in 21 of 38 field goals (55%) and 18 of 33 from the charity stripe. The Lady Highlanders had 21 turnovers.
Conrad said the game was definitely one his team could learn from going into next week’s sectional play.
“I would say offensively this is the first game where we called home-run passes, where you try to score right off the bat instead of moving the ball a little bit,” he said. “We did too many passes where we were taking some off-balanced shots. We could have made two or three passes and got something better out of it.”