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Jennings bombs Highlanders, 68-43

Jennings bombs Highlanders, 68-43
Jennings bombs Highlanders, 68-43
Floyd Central’s Brandon Codey, left, and Nick Biery put the pressure on Jennings County’s Zach Cordes in the second half. The Highlanders, however, had a rough second half, losing 68-43. (Photo by Wade Bell)

After having three good quarters against a much bigger Jennings County team, the Floyd Central Highlanders saw the game come apart in the fourth quarter Friday night as the visiting Panthers went both downtown and to 6-10 center Zach Fields late to earn a 68-43 win in a Hoosier Hills Conference matchup.
“In the game you have to take something away, and we took neither away,” Floyd coach Randy Gianfagna said. “They made threes, and in the second half the big kid just killed us. We’re not playing any defense right now, and it’s my job to make sure we do.”
The Highlanders played point-for-point with the Panthers in the first period. Kellen Begeman put Jennings County up by four, but Ryan Adam pulled Floyd within two, 16-14, after the first eight minutes.
Adam tied the game with a deuce to start the second period, but John Paul Hyden buried a three-ball. Kane Hackemack kept Floyd within one, but the Panthers responded with an 8-0 burst to lead 27-18.
Adam got two of those back, but Fields and Begeman both scored inside for Jennings. Hackemack responded with a pair of deuces, but the Highlanders still trailed 31-24 at the break.
“Early in the first half we did OK,” Gianfagna said. “Right now, people just pull us out, and once they get ahead, they make us chase, and it’s hard when you’re chasing. We had a decent start to the first half.”
“At halftime we talked about three things,” the Floyd coach said. “We talked on the stats where they had seven free throws and we had zero. They had four efforts on rebounds and we had zero. The third one was, they had more transition points than we did. I thought we could run them up and down the floor and get wide-open threes on transition.”
Hyden put away three long-range threes in the first few minutes of the second half as Jennings County took a 40-26 lead.
Floyd fought back as Nick Biery buried a three and Hackemack and Buddy McAfee got deuces to pull the Highlanders within seven, 40-33. Fields swished a pair of singles and Brock Hurtle hit from beyond the arc for the Panthers. Biery got two of those back, but Jonathan Webster hit a three and Jennings County’s lead was 48-35 with a quarter remaining.
“It’s just HORSE,” Gianfagna said of the Jennings’ threes. “When no one’s around you, anybody can make a three.”
“Our third quarters are terrible,” he said. “I don’t know what to do to change it. Maybe I shouldn’t just come in here and talk at all, just leave them on the court and let them work out. It’s kind of sarcasm, but I’m really struggling with it.”
Jennings County broke the game open with a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter. Cody Banet and Ryam Wimsatt scored late for Floyd, but the hole was much too deep as the Panthers went on to get the 68-43 win.
“We’re not guarding and we’re not rebounding, and we’re putting teams at the free-throw line,” Gianfagna said. “Count all those three things, and they’re all toughness. … We didn’t catch much tonight. In that second quarter, when they made that run, we could have had two layups if we just catch the ball.”
Adam and Hackemack led the Highlanders (2-9) with 12 points each. Floyd connected on 19 of its 42 field goal attempts (45 percent) and made 14 turnovers. The Highlanders made just 3 of 9 free-throw attempts. Gianfagna said the Panthers put a lot of pressure on Adam and McAfee.
“Early, I thought (Adam) was fine,” he said. “When three guys are on you, somebody’s got to be open, and I thought he could have given it a couple of times. We’re working on a couple of things with him. He played OK.”
“The first two couple of shots I thought were passive shots,” the Floyd coach said of McAfee. “He didn’t really attack. His shoulders were not squared. After that, I thought he was looking for the guy (Fields), and that’s why he fumbled all those passes.”
Fields led the Panthers (7-4) with 21 points, and Hyden had five threes in his 20-point effort. Jennings County went shot 50 percent from the field, hitting 20 of 40, and canned 19 of 29 free throws. The Panthers finished committed 15 turnovers.
“What they were doing is pinning our wings with their big kid skipping it, so the three was there,” Gianfagna said. “If you close out on the three, they just lob it to the big kid.”
Gianfagna said defense is the main thing his team needs to practice. Through the first 12 games, Floyd’s opponents are averaging 69.7 points.
“Our offense is fine,” he said. “It’s just that we’re not stopping anybody. It’s just defense. It’s all it is. We are not five guys playing together defensively. We’re just not doing it.”