Lions can’t take pressure, succumb to Madison Central rally

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

LANCASTER — It wasn’t the performance Scott Latham expected from his Garrard County girls basketball team. Holding a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter and four seniors on the floor, reason would dictate a win for the Golden Lions.

But Madison Central obviously didn’t much care about all of that, drilling four 3-pointers in the final stages of the game and sending the host Lions to a 47-45 loss Tuesday in the Elite Insurance Solutions Lady Lions Classic.

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“I sound like a broken record, but we should be undefeated right now,” Latham said. “… We lost our composure in the fourth quarter. We quit executing and running our break; we let a little 1-2-2 diamond press, whatever you want to call it, bother us instead of running our break.”

Latham had felt his team turned a corner during their recent trip to Florida, particularly after opening the KSA Events Holiday Tournament with a loss. They reeled off two straight wins, neither of them particularly close, before heading home for their home tournament.

And when Maddy Day hit a layup in transition off a Central turnover for a 39-27 lead with around five minutes remaining, it appeared Garrard (6-4) was on its way to a third straight win.

Right after Day’s basket, though, the Indians (7-5) hit their first of four 3s to spur a 20-6 run to end the game. The Indians rolled out a 1-2-2 press during that span, forcing four Lions turnovers in the final three minutes.

“They capitalized on every mistake we made,” Latham said. “Six turnovers in the fourth quarter in a short span, and they’re making 3s off of it. Our goal was to make them beat us from the outside, and in the fourth quarter, they did.”

Central’s Bailee Vanover and Lindsey Johns made back-to-back treys to first tie the game and then give the Indians their first lead since the second quarter at 46-43. Garrard’s Neek Hocker pulled the Lions within 46-45, but they couldn’t pull out one more basket over the final 80 seconds of the game.

That the Indians had to rally for the win was somewhat shocking considering they opened the game with a 10-4 lead over the first six minutes. Garrard eighth grader Fran Montgomery hit the first of five 3s her team made in the first half to pull within 10-7.

Sam Adams made both of her 3s in the first half, the first at the end of the first quarter and the second at the buzzer before halftime, giving Garrard its first lead at 24-21.

“We should have shot them out of the zone,” Latham said. “I knew they weren’t coming out of it until we got up. That was our whole goal, to get them to play man-to-man because then we could get any look we wanted, and we did. When we were patient and executed, got five out, we got the shots we wanted.”

Montgomery scored of two consecutive Central turnovers in the third quarter, and Sis Logan ended the quarter with a 3 as Garrard pushed its lead to 35-25 entering the fourth.

And for the first half of the final quarter, the Lions held steady, with Day making back-to-back transition layups for the 12-point lead.

Day finished with a game-high 14 points, making two of Garrard’s seven 3-pointers. Adams (nine points) and Logan (eight points) also made two 3s.

The Lions defense held Central to seven points below its season average, holding Mallie Cornett in check with four points. Vanover had 12 points and Kasi Schneid added 11, with three 3-pointers.

“I can’t knock our defense until the fourth quarter, our defense has been pretty good,” Latham said. “They got tired a little bit because some of those kids played a lot of minutes, but you know what, those kids had to play a lot of minutes.”

The Lions won’t play today in the tournament, instead facing the winner of Rockcastle County and South Laurel at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn

Elite Insurance Solutions Lady Lions Classic

At Garrard County

MADISON CENTRAL 12 9 4 22 — 47

GARRARD COUNTY 10 14 11 10 — 45

MADISON CENTRAL (7-5) — Vanover 12, Todd 5, Pacheco 2, Johns 9, Schneid 11, Cornett 4.

GARRARD COUNTY (6-4) — Sam Adams 9, Maddy Day 14, Neek Hocker 7, Sis Logan 8, Fran Montgomery 7.