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Highlander' hearts rally to stop Scottsburg, 63-60

Floyd Central's Ryan Adam, left, feels some pressure from Scottsburg's Brandon Coomer in the Highlanders' 63-60 come-from-behind win. (Photo by Wade Bell)
February 20, 2008
At the beginning of the season, if the Floyd Central Highlanders had been down double digits late in the third quarter, they most likely would not have come out a winner. Three months later, that has changed, and the Highlanders showed their heart Saturday night with a come-from-behind 63-60 win over visiting Scottsburg.

"It hasn't been the season we expected, but everybody played good and rebounded for us tonight," said Floyd junior Buddy McAfee, who led the fourth quarter rally. "It's a pretty good confidence booster for us going toward sectional."

Senior Night may have had a little effect on Floyd's start to the game. Scottsburg began with a quick surge in the early going for a 9-2 lead. Thomas Briscoe and McAfee pulled Floyd within three. However, with about a minute to go Tyler, Schulze drilled a three and the Warriors had a 14-8 lead after the first eight minutes.

"In the first quarter, I think the seniors had a little jitters and took some bad shots," Floyd coach Randy Gianfagna said. "That put is in some spots. Every time we got close in the first or second quarter they hit a three or we'd miss an assignment or something like that."

Floyd stayed within four early in the second quarter, then Kane Hackemack got a deuce-and-one, pulling the Highlanders within one. Andrew Boswell sank a three for the Warriors, but Hackemack and Cody Banet closed the gap again to one.

Schulze got the next five for the Warriors. McAfee got one of those back, but Boswell and Schulze went inside for a pair of deuces, pushing the Scottsburg advantage to 28-19.

Briscoe got the last points of the half with just under a minute to go, as Floyd was down six at halftime.

"In here we were down six and missed 10 free throws," Gianfagna said. "We thought, 'OK, we'll make our free throws the second half and won't worry about it.' Then, we got down early in that third quarter. They hit some threes. (Jordan Taylor) is a good player and had some threes. He's been a good player for them."

Floyd and Scottsburg traded baskets through the first few minutes of the third, but the Warriors were sinking threes to the Highlander deuces. McAfee and Adam both scored, pulling Floyd within six, but Taylor answered with a three.

With just under a minute to go, Jordan Gibson knocked down a long deuce, giving Scottsburg its biggest lead of the night at 47-36. Banet answered inside ahead of a Gibson single, and McAfee scored inside, to close the Floyd gap to eight, 48-40, with eight minutes to go in the game.

"I said, 'Let's go this quarter,'" Gianfagna said. "We really started working the inside game, and our kids found Buddy. We defended a lot better in that fourth quarter."

"The main thing we didn't want them to do was get us going and speed us up," McAfee said. "We just wanted them to slow down and play our game instead of playing theirs."

Floyd scored the first six points of the fourth, bringing the Highlander crowd to a frenzy and cutting the Scottsburg lead to two, 48-46. Joe Quarcini scored inside for the Warriors and later got two free throws, but McAfee and Banet scored the next seven, giving the Highlanders a 53-51 advantage with 3:21 to go in the game.

With 2:54 to go, Taylor was called for his fifth foul. Floyd's confidence continued to grow with Banet and Biery drilling threes, the Highlander lead ballooning to 59-51 and forcing Scottsburg to call timeout again.

Scottsburg was not ready to roll over yet and hit four straight free throws to pull within four with just over a minute to go.

Briscoe missed the front end of a bonus, but Biery was there with the board and was fouled with 43.2 seconds left. Biery's free throws pushed the lead to six, but Schulze came back with a long three-ball to keep Scottsburg in the game with 35.6 seconds to go.

Briscoe misfired at the line a second time, but Scottsburg rushed its next shot and Floyd got the board.

Floyd's Brandon Codey hit two free throws 11.3 left to make it a two-possession game at 63-58.

Scottsburg missed a three, but Schulze got the putback. It was too little too late, however, as Floyd held the ball out of bounds for the final three seconds for the 63-60 win.

"He's been struggling," Gianfagna said of Scottsburg coach Brady Wells. "He's playing four freshmen. They haven't played four quarters either, and it's kind of the same thing we're struggling with, playing four quarters."

"Everybody is playing with a lot more confidence now it seems like," McAfee said of his teammates. "We're doing more passing, passing the ball and making that extra pass. We're playing a lot harder than we were."

McAfee led the Highlanders in scoring with 21 points. Floyd was 24 of 41 (58 percent) from the field, but just 11 of 26 from the free-throw line. The Highlanders committed 18 turnovers.

"We're happy," Gianfagna said. "We made some big plays coming down to the end. Travis (Huber's) defense and a couple of passes there, Nick hit a big shot. Codey hit a big shot. Buddy was big. He had 14 rebounds. Everybody that played tonight contributed."

"Banet played and hit that big three there," he said. "He got a couple of runouts that second to last possession. He did a really nice job tonight. Everybody played well tonight. It was nice ... I think Nick's three was the dagger for them. That put us up eight and that was the end."

Schulze led Scottsburg with 21 points. The Warriors shot 22 of 61 (36 percent) in field goals and 9 of 14 from the free-throw line. Scottsburg made 10 turnovers.

"I think we're getting a lot better," McAfee said. "Every game we just keep getting better. We're getting there, so it's coming ... It's great. I love it. Winning is pretty fun."

"Hopefully, we're playing our best basketball," Gianfagna said. "We've won three out of the last five, so we'll see."

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