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Highlanders hold off Madison, 66-61

January 26, 2011
Madison had a record of just 1-9 going into its game at Floyd Central Saturday night, but the Cubs gave the Highlanders all they could handle before falling, 66-61. Floyd Central coach Randy Gianfagna was happy to get the Hoosier Hills Conference win, but he wasn't completely pleased with his team's performance.

"They (Madison) played pretty well and shot pretty well tonight, and we missed a bunch of free throws," Gianfagna said. "Every time we had a chance to push the lead to eight or 10, we did something that wasn't very smart."

Floyd Central’s Quinton Miller gets the Highlanders going early with two of his 22 points. Photo by Wade Bell
Floyd Central got the early jump in the game, but Madison came back each time to stay in the hunt. Quinton Miller got three quick deuces to give the Highlanders a 15-11 lead, but, with 1.5 seconds to go, Corey Povaleri launched a 45-footer that banked its way through the hoop to close the gap to one, 15-14.

Wade Niehoff and Miller found a triple and deuce, respectively, to push the Highlander lead back to six to start the second period. Madison, getting a shot in the arm from Povaleri's big bucket, launched a 10-0 counter-offensive to lead 24-20.

The Cubs led through the remainder of the half, taking a 30-27 edge at halftime from another three-point buzzer-beater by Ryan Thurston.

"Our defense was not very good tonight," Gianfagna said. "It just wasn't. We've had four guys sick this week, and we've been out. A couple of guys missed practice because of being ill, and that showed up tonight."

Floyd Central began the second half with a 7-1 burst to regain a 34-31 lead. That didn't last long, however, as Povaleri got a single and Thurston another three-ball for a 35-34 Madison edge.

Floyd Central countered this time with a 7-3 burst to lead 41-38.

The Cubs, however, were proving to be a tough match as they responded with three free throws and another three-ball from Thurston to lead 44-43 with eight minutes left in the game.

"We just kind of stood around," Gianfagna said. "Defensively, we're still not where we want to be. It's just they provide us some matchup issues and we provide them some.

"They took our bigs out a little bit farther on the floor and we tried to pound it inside and they played zone."

The Highlanders finally got some momentum going in the fourth quarter, launching a 9-0 run to lead 53-44 with 4:30 left.

Madison came out of a time-out with a three-ball from Sean Hoevener. Miller and Connor Schellenberg responded with six straight points to give the Highlanders a 59-47 lead.

Madison, however, still had another surge left in it and made a 7-2 run to close the gap to seven, 61-54, with a minute and a half to go.

After Floyd Central's Niehoff sank two freebies and Dylan Jenny added a third, Madison missed two deuces but got the third to go in to pull within eight.

Miller then got a steal and went for the dunk but missed and drew a technical foul for hanging on the rim, drawing Gianfagna's unhappy eye.

Thurston banged another three, his fifth of the game, to cut Floyd Central's lead to five. With 13.1 seconds left, however, Niehoff went to the free-throw line, cashing in both singles for a 66-59 lead.

Povaleri got the last bucket of the game, but it wasn't enough as Floyd Central came out on top, 66-61.

The Highlanders were hurt by their bigs being in foul trouble or not at 100 percent.

"Barrett (Crone) comes up with four (fouls)," Gianfagna said. "I thought Dylan (Jenny) played well tonight. Jordan (Thompson) is the one that's been sick. He missed one practice where he didn't do anything. He missed an entire practice. He's just felt like a dog, and he couldn't get going tonight."

Miller led the Highlanders with 22 points, and Niehoff followed with 16. Connor Schellenberg and Crone each had 10 points for Floyd Central, which hit 24 of 40 field-goal attempts (60 percent) but just 12 of 26 free throws. The Highlanders had 13 turnovers.

"I told (Miller) everything great till the end," Gianfagna said. "I wasn't too happy with that … If we hit our free throws, it's probably lights out. We shoot almost 70 percent for the year and just didn't do it."

Seth Pennington led Madison with 16 points, and Thurston followed with 15. Povaleri added 11 for the Cubs, who were 19 of 54 (35 percent) from the floor but connected on 10 of 21 three-pointers.

Madison (0-5, 2-10 HHC) also hit 12 of 26 free throws but had just six turnovers.

"They played hard tonight, and they played well," Gianfagna said of the Cubs.

"They had a good game plan, and we were able to outlast them … They've got five or six guys who can stretch you and shoot it."

"Hopefully, we'll have five days of school next week," said the Floyd Central coach. "We've got to get another conference win."

Floyd Central (10-4, 1-2 HHC) will visit conference-foe Seymour Friday for a 7:30 p.m. tip. The Highlanders will then host Evansville Reitz Saturday night at 8.

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