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Lady Highlanders pin down No. 10 Jennings

January 30, 2008
The Lady Highlanders of Floyd Central gave everybody notice that they're a serious sectional contender last Tuesday night when they stopped Class 4A No. 10 Jennings County 61-56 in a Hoosier Hills Conference contest during homecoming week. It was a game where the Lady Highlanders wanted to redeem themselves after suffering a loss to Corydon Central just three nights before.

Floyd Central point guard Brigid Morrissey was a thorn in the side of Jennings County's Shea Richardson and the Panthers as she scored 19 points in the Lady Highlanders' 61-56 win. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"It was just how our kids bounced back," Floyd coach Joe Voelker said. "The loss to Corydon was kind of disappointing. When we looked at the tape, we really didn't play poorly. We played well, and to come back on this one is kind of nice."

"We've played pretty well outside our sectional and outside the conference, so it's pretty nice to finally get a second conference win," he said. "The kids really stepped up and executed our game plan very well. We knew we had to defend really well."

Floyd jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but the Lady Panthers had a big gun to go to in 6-foot, 4-inch Tiffany Elmore, who played a big part in pulling Jennings County to within one. The Lady Highlanders, however, finished out the first period with a 7-2 burst to lead 16-10.

Despite Elmore's size, Floyd's Camry Hinton and Jessica Whittaker scored the first six points of the second period all in the paint. Katie Jackson finally hit a three for Jennings, and Tori Magner scored inside to close the gap to seven, 22-15. Brigid Morrissey pushed Floyd's lead back to nine, but the Lady Panthers finished with a 6-2 burst, and the Lady Highlander advantage was just five, 26-21, at halftime.

"I thought we did a nice job attacking the basket," Voelker said. "We've been a little stagnant lately and kind of just standing around the perimeter. I thought we did a much better job of attacking the rim and created some layups for ourselves."

Elmore kept the Lady Panthers within four early in the third period, then the gap closed to two when Magner scored inside. Hinton and Morrissey sank four straight free throws, but Elmore got two of those back.

Floyd then went on a 9-3 run, six of those points coming in the paint to compliment a three-ball by Morrissey. The two teams traded baskets in the final minute as Floyd enjoyed a 45-35 lead with eight minutes left.

"We were able to mix our defenses up a little bit," Voelker said. "We pretty much played man-and-a-half, but mixed it up on the whole some."

Jennings County continued to take the ball inside, and a 8-2 burst pulled the Lady Panthers within four, 47-43. Jennings kept themselves within four until Jennifer Smith scored twice for a 57-51 Floyd lead. That lasted only briefly, however, as Magner drilled a three to pull the Lady Panthers within three, 57-54, with less than a minute to go.

Whittaker scored inside with 30 seconds left and later added a free throw for a six-point Floyd lead. With 14.4 seconds left, Magner hit a short jumper, but Jennings County was running out of clock. Hinton got a final free throw and Floyd celebrated the 61-56 win.

"Really, it was a team effort," Voelker said. "Everybody we brought into the basketball game played well. We brought some subs off the bench at the end of the third, and they got the lead out to 10. Abbey Holderman and Erica Smith, we took it from four to 10. I was just really pleased at how we executed what we wanted to do. Even when we made mistakes, all I could say to our kids was, 'Grow.' Elmore just went over the top of them."

Morrissey had a solid night for the Lady Highlanders (12-6), scoring a team-high 19 points. Hinton tossed in 13 points for Floyd who connected on 20 of 46 field goals (43 percent) and 17 of 22 free throws. The Lady Highlanders had just 12 turnovers.

"We had a pretty even scoring night," Voelker said. "We had a lot of balance. Most of Brigid's came late. Camry did a good job attacking the rim, really for four quarters. Jess (Whittaker) ran the floor well and got a few easy baskets. Our post kids really played well. If you look, we got 20 points out of the post, and with Elmore patrolling down there, it didn't come off of breaks. It came in halfcourt sets. It came from kicks from our guards. That's probably what I'm most pleased with. We were able to kick with those 20 points."

Elmore, who has signed to play volleyball for Western Kentucky University, led the Lady Panthers (15-3) with 23 points, and Magner finished with 13. Jackson added 11 for Jennings County, who hit 24 of 54 field goal attempts (44 percent).

"We knew Elmore was going to score because we're kind of small at that spot," Voelker said. "Jennifer Smith was a big difference, because if we didn't put Jennifer on her, she did a good job of being on the back side of the help. When they threw the lob and Jennifer wasn't there, they could really throw it big time over the top. Jennifer, with her size, was probably a big advantage for us late."

Voelker said the Corydon game showed his team wasn't where it should be, but this game was a good step back in the right direction.

"To be able to step on the floor and do this, it was one of our better games," he said. "It was a big gut check, and I was pretty pleased with the way we were able to finish and hold them off."

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