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The Floyd Central Lady Highlanders celebrate their first regional championship Saturday night at Bedford after rallying to a 68-63 win over defending Class 4A champion No. 3 Moorseville. Floyd Central will now face undefeated Ben Davis in the semi-state. Photos by Wade Bell

Floyd upends defending champ Mooresville

Bedford Regional Final

February 24, 2010
The Floyd Central Lady Highlanders were on a mission Saturday night heading into the final of the Class 4A girls' basketball regional at Bedford. They had just beaten Evansville Harrison to reach the final against third-ranked and defending champion Mooresville, but they wanted more.

"It has to be said, we're not up here to win one," Floyd Central coach Joe Voelker said after the Harrison win. "We're up here to win two. We've come up to win the tournament … We'll do what it takes to get Mooresville. We've watched them in five games. I think we're ready to play them. The kids will have to stay up and play well. We'll see what they have left."

Floyd Central did what it took. Floyd Central was ready. Floyd Central had a lot left. And Floyd Central won two, beating Mooresville, 68-63, to reach Saturday's semi-state at Southport against top-ranked Ben Davis.

Voelker and his coaching staff did their best to keep the Lady Highlanders' minds on something besides the final during their five-hour wait in between games.

Floyd Central junior Jennifer Smith breaks through Mooresville’s Meagan Callaway, left, and Jama Sharp for two of her 21 points in the Lady Highlanders’ 68-63 win.
"Coaching, we kept our kids at the hotel," he said. "We didn't even talk about them till we showed up at the gym at 6:20 or 6:30. We just took them through a few of the sets they like to do, and the kids kind of understand what's going to happen."

The Lady Pioneers led most of the first period, but Floyd Central was right there, tying the game twice. By the end of the first eight minutes, Mooresville led by a point, 12-11. Both teams had trouble getting shots to fall early in the second and then Brigid Morrissey drilled a three to give the Lady Highlanders a 14-12 lead.

The Lady Pioneers quickly bounced back with six unanswered points to lead 18-14. Bailey Wellspring added a free throw to up the advantage to five, but Jennifer Smith countered with a deuce-and-one to pull Floyd Central within two. The lead later changed hands four times, but Mooresville had the final two baskets, Kim Nelson with a three and Jama Sharp a deuce, to give the Lady Pioneers a 30-26 advantage at halftime.

"The biggest thing is, I thought we weren't very aggressive there early in the game," Voelker said. "I thought we were very timid. We made one turnover where Brigid should have gone for a layup and she stayed behind the line."

"We had to change our defenses a lot because they're so good shooting," he said. "They're very well coached and able to mix things up a little bit."

"We knew we were evenly matched," Morrissey said. "We knew they were a really good team but we were still confident. Our assistant coach, Maddie Richards, has been talking to us about confidence all year. I think that's really paid off. Coming out of that rough sectional really prepared us."

Mooresville pushed its lead to nine, 42-33, three minutes into the third period, but, as they have done before, the Lady Highlanders charged back into the game. Mercades Bierman began the run with a three-ball. Following a deuce by Sharp, Smith and Morgan Rookstool put in deuces. Morrissey got an old-fashioned three and then Smith scored in the paint, Morrissey hit from behind the arc and Smith scored again inside, as Floyd Central took a 52-48 lead with one quarter left.

"We regrouped and said we've got to attack the rim," Voelker said. "Right after that, we got the foul on the big kid (Maegan Callaway) … We got the foul on the big kid attacking the rim, and that's what we had to do. We had to attack the rim. We couldn't play timid."

Nelson swished a three to start the fourth. Floyd Central answered with four to lead 56-51. Aerial Clark scored for the Lady Pioneers, but Bierman countered with another three. Mooresville later gained some ground with a three by Sierra Chabra. Smith scored inside, but Sharp added a three to close the gap to two, 65-63, with a minute to go.

Clark fouled Camry Hinton with 29 seconds left. Hinton, as coolly as she did against Jeffersonville, sank both freebies to give the Lady Highlanders a 67-63 lead. Mooresville missed on its next attempt and then turned the ball over following the rebound. Morrissey was fouled and made one of two, as Floyd Central held on for its first regional title with a 68-63 win.

"The kids found a way to win," Voelker said. "Mercades stepped up and hit a couple of threes for us. Camry attacked in second, third and fourth quarters like we need her to attack. Brigid started to attack the rim a little bit, which opens Jennifer up and gives Jennifer some baskets."

"Unreal," Morrissey said. "I thought sectional was great, and I can't even think of any words for this game at all. It makes me want to cry every time I think about it."

"I just keep going back to that loss at Columbus East," Morrissey said. "I think that helped us learn how to stay composed and to know we're still in the game. We know that 32 minutes is a long basketball game. If we're down, we know we can fight our way back."

Smith led the Lady Highlanders (25-1) with 21 points, and Morrissey poured in 16. Hinton added 13 points for Floyd Central, which was 23 of 40 (58 percent) from the field and 15 of 26 from the line. The Lady Highlanders had 12 turnovers.

"I was very pleased with our rebounding," Voelker said. "After the first couple of possessions, I thought we rebounded very well. We got them a little out of sorts with the 1-3 using a chaser (on Sharp). We changed up a lot. We used a 3-2 with the big kids out of the game, which I thought stopped (Sharp)."

Charbra led Mooresville with 17 points, and Sharp finished with 15. Callaway added 12 for the Lady Pioneers, who were 23 of 58 (40 percent) shooting and 11 of 17 from the charity stripe. Mooresville had just seven turnovers.

"We beat a heck of a good team tonight," Voelker said. "It's like I told our kids, from Indianapolis, to Terre Haute, to Evansville, to I-65, that quarter of the state, we're it, we're the best basketball team in that part of the state. There's not much to say. I'm just tickled with them."

The Lady Highlanders have knocked off both the second- and third-ranked teams in Class 4A. Now, they must face top-ranked Ben Davis Saturday at Southport for a trip to the state finals in Fort Wayne.

"We have a week," Morrissey said. "We can enjoy this win a little bit more. Sectional was a very quick turnaround. We had to focus on regionals. Our coaches do a great job of preparing and scouting and just getting us ready for the game. They'll get our minds right and get our team right."

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