Floyd falls to Jennings County
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
Ten days before playing in the New Albany girls’ basketball sectional, Jennings County destroyed the Floyd Central Lady Highlanders, winning by 30 points. Friday night, the Lady Highlanders were on a mission to turn that around. With the fierceness of the Highlander warriors of Scotland, Floyd Central went head to head against the Lady Panthers for the full 32 minutes but came up short in a 44-32 loss.
“We played hard, a far cry from what we did 10 days ago up there,” said Floyd Central coach Randy Gianfagna. “The thing we didn’t do, we didn’t quit. The girls followed the game plan. We needed a few of our layups to go early to put even more pressure on them.”
The Lady Highlanders immediately came out scrapping to start the game, trading paint with the Lady Panthers basket for basket. Juliann Woodard and Addyson Kent hit back-to-back shots for Jennings County, but Amanda Hess countered to keep the distance at just a point. Floyd Central was hit with a technical for a book violation. That lead to a 7-0 run by the Lady Panthers, who led 15-7 at the end of the quarter.
Keegan Kaiser started the second period with a deuce, but Jennings County countered with seven, the Lady Panthers’ lead ballooning to 13, 22-9. Floyd Central was not about to give up and cashed in a cluster of four free throws. Grace Suer scored inside to finish out a 6-1 burst, and the Lady Highlanders went to the locker room down eight, 23-15, at halftime.
“It got stuck, and they tried to deny Keegan,” Gianfagna said. “We did a pretty good job still.”
Kaiser, however, was not going to be denied and scored the first points of the second half, closing the gap to six. It was at that point that the Lady Panthers went downtown. Kali Thompson and Brooke Mowery drilled three-balls. Kaiser converted in the paint off a Jennings County turnover, but Thompson drilled a second three in response, and the Lady Panthers’ advantage went back to 13, 32-19.
The next few minutes went dry, then Kendall Brown put a three in her scoring column for the Lady Highlanders and a gap of just 10. Woodard negated those in the paint at the end of the quarter, and Floyd Central’s deficit was 12 with one quarter to go.
“We were trying to put game pressure on them,” Gianfagna said. “The checkouts killed us. They got three consecutive possessions. We were going to give something up, and Woodard only had 10. She had 22 the first time. You have to give up something.”
Jennings County scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, but Suer countered with a deuce and three. Kent sank a Jennings County three.
Floyd Central made a final 5-1 run but ran out of clock as the Lady Panthers got the 44-32 win.
“It was 33-10 on the rebounds and that killed us,” said the Floyd Central coach. “At the end of the third quarter, they got a put-back and they got two put-backs to start the fourth, and that kind of put us on our heels.”
Kaiser and Suer led Floyd Central with 11 each. The Lady Highlanders connected on 11 of 29 shots from the field (38%) and 7 of 11 from the charity stripe. They had 13 turnovers for the night.
“I’m just so proud of them,” Gianfagna said of his seniors Suer, Sophie Gas-away and Laney Seiwert. “They’re together all of the time. I told them to come back when we’re cutting the nets down and that they’re a part of it.”
Kent and Thompson had 12 each for the Lady Panthers, and Woodard was held to 10. Jennings County hit 16 of 39 field goals (41%) and 6 of 13 from the charity stripe and had 15 turnovers.
“We weren’t going to let Woodard go,” Gianfagna said. “Last time she had 22, and tonight she had 10. That was the big thing.”
The Lady Highlanders faced a lot of adversity during the season, including 16 members of the team testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the season, which shut down the program for two weeks.
Gianfagna has a solid core group coming back for next season with some good younger players ready to make their way up through the ranks.
“I’m proud of how hard they worked,” he said. “We’ve dealt with COVID where, basically, the whole team got it. We’ve got kids injured, so it’s been an interesting year. We’re kind of looking to the off-season where we can actually do some work and have a good summer. The three seniors helped push us there, and we’ve just got to keep getting better.”
Floyd Central 7 8 7 10 – 32
Jennings County 15 8 11 10 – 44
Floyd Central – Kaiser 11, Suer 11, Hess 7, Brown 3.
Jennings County – Kent 12, Thompson 12, Woodard 10, Mowery 5, Li. Ernstes 3, Elmore 2.
3-pointers – Floyd Central 3 (Brown 1, Hess 1, Suer 1); Jennings County 6 (Thompson 3, Kent 2, Mowery 1).