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No. 4 Floyd rallies to oust No. 2 Jeff

Floyd Central Sectional Semi-Final

February 17, 2010
A minute into the fourth quarter of the Class 4A Floyd Central Sectional semi-final Saturday night, the host Lady Highlanders were down 13 points to Class 4A No. 2 Jeffersonville, and if you had asked just about anybody sitting in the stands, they probably would have told you, "Game over, Jeffersonville wins."

Floyd Central vs. Jeffersonville
The Lady Highlanders, ranked fourth and the only team to have defeated Jeffersonville in the regular season, however, didn't believe that, nor should they have, as they roared back to score 27 points and steal a 50-47 win to oust the Lady Red Devils from the tournament and move on to meet Seymour in the final.

Floyd Central coach Joe Voelker
"I guess the difference is we hit some shots late," Floyd Central coach Joe Voelker said. "That's really the biggest thing. We made some shots late in the game. We were able to step up and find a way to win."

Voelker knew, however, the night would not be an easy one.

"We know what we have to do," he said after his team's win over Jennings County two nights before. "We've just got to be solid defensively. We know they've got us outmanned in every spot but Jennifer (Smith's) by three or four inches. We know we've just got to be very solid and we've got to handle the basketball and get good shots."

Floyd Central senior Brigid Morrissey takes an elbow to the face from Jeffersonville’s Lakin Rowland in the second half of the Lady Highlanders’ 50-47 sectional semi-final win. No foul was called on the play. Photo by Wade Bell
The game lived up to the hype early as the teams were tied at 6, but then Floyd Central (22-1) grabbed a gear and finished the period with seven unanswered points to lead 13-6.

Smith pushed the Floyd Central lead to 15-6, but Lakin Roland scored the next seven points to close the gap to, 15-13. Smith scored on the next Floyd Central possession, but Jeffersonville countered with seven to lead 20-17. Emily Foster hit a long jumper for the Lady Highlanders, but Roland nailed a 10-footer at the buzzer to give Jeff a 22-19 at halftime.

"We did not play a perfect game, by any means, the first time we played them," Voelker said. "Actually, we didn't feel we played real well. I didn't think they played real well either. I think both teams forced each other into a lot of turnovers."

The Lady Red Devils (20-2) pushed their lead to six in the third quarter when Brooklyn Kinnaird drilled a three. Jeffersonville continued to dominate the period, finishing with a 7-0 run to lead 34-23.

Brooke Valentine hit a short jumper to begin the fourth period as the Lady Red Devils increased their advantage to 36-23. At that point, however, Jeff turned the ball over on its next two possessions, with Floyd Central converting on the second.

Jeffersonville coach Chad Gilbert called a quick timeout, which allowed Voelker to let his team know there was time to bounce back.

"I just told them there's a lot of game left," Voelker said. "With the way Jeff plays and fouls, and dead balls and everything, it's a lot of time left to get yourselves back in the basketball game. You've just got to take it little by little. The kids just hit some shots."

The Lady Highlanders did more than just hit shots. Jeff turned the ball over following the timeout, and Mercades Bierman drilled a three. Again, Jeff coughed up the ball, and this time Rookstool scored inside to send the Floyd Central fans into a frenzy. Valentine briefly quieted the fans with a deuce, but minutes later Rookstool and Bierman drilled back-to-back threes and Smith added a deuce to tie the game at 42.

Rookstool countered Jeff's next two baskets, but then Roland put Jeff out in front as she canned one of two free throws. Rookstool answered again with another pair from the stripe to put Floyd Central in front by one. Shanice Gholson had a chance to put Jeff in front again, but she missed two free throws.

Following a Floyd Central timeout, Gholson was called for an intentional foul that sent Hinton to the stripe with 1.9 seconds left. The Floyd Central senior coolly swished both freebies, and Morrissey held the ball on the final possession for the 50-47 win.

"It's a heck of a win," Voelker said. "The kids came from behind and did it, and there's not much to say. It's a heck of a nice win for our team."

Voelker said Hinton wanted the last two free throws.

"She knew they were going to go down, and I felt pretty confident they were going to go down," Voelker said. "I was more worried about us making a stupid play on the inbound and (Jeff) getting a three off on the inbounds play once we got it long. We were able to finish."

Smith and Rookstool led the Lady Highlanders with 15 points each. Floyd Central committed just eight turnovers. The Lady Highlanders were 18 of 43 (42 percent) from the field and 13 of 18 from the free-throw line, including Rookstool's perfect 8-for-8. Smith's 15 points put her over 1,000 in her first three years.

"We got down 13 then got ourselves back in the ball game," Voelker said. "With that, we were able to make a few plays. When you're up like that, then things get tight."

"I told Mercades (who finished with nine points) not to have a conscience when she was behind the line," Voelker said. "You have to step up and stick them. A credit to her she did and got it. And we got a couple of steals and got a couple of dead balls. On the loose ball situations, we were able to kind of steal it, steal the game from them."

Roland led Jeffersonville with 21 points, and Valentine added 10. The Lady Red Devils were 19 of 35 (54 percent) from the field but only 4 of 13 from the free-throw line. Jeff had 16 turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter.

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