Lady Highlanders fly by Austin in home opener
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
The Floyd Central Lady Highlanders started the season on the wrong foot Nov. 6 when they fell on the road to Hoosier Hills Conference-rival Columbus East 57-48.
Three days later, the Lady Highlanders opened the home portion of their schedule against Austin. While the contest started out contentious, the Lady Highlanders used a second-quarter run to eventually pull out a 43-29 victory to move to 1-1.
The opening quarter began as a bit of a low-scoring affair, but the three-ball highlighted what scoring there was. The Lady Eagles got a triple from Mayci Furnish, while the Lady Highlanders responded with threes from freshmen Samara Miller and Nora Gibson. Miller added another bucket alongside a field goal from junior Kennedy Emerson and a three-point play from senior Keegan Kaiser.
The Lady Eagles’ remaining scoring in the period came courtesy of a field goal and two free throws from Mallory Buckel, ending the first quarter trailing the Lady Highlanders 13-7.
Whatever Lady Eagles’ head coach Jared Peterson said to his squad prior to the second quarter it seemed to be working initially as the Lady Eagles began the period with a 6-3 run to cut the deficit to 16-13. The Lady Highlanders responded in empathic fashion, closing out the quarter on a 14-3 run, including scoring 11 straight points.
“(Austin) was sitting back in their zone defense, so they’re making us shoot jumpers,” said Lady Highlanders skipper Randy Gianfagna. “We hit a couple early, but then we settled. Once we were able to turn them over a little bit, it helped us get into our transition offense.”
Part of that surge came when senior Kendall Brown converted a three-point play. Gibson followed by swiping the subsequent inbound pass before taking it up for another two points. Another triple from Miller plus a pair of buckets each from Emerson and Kaiser helped push the Lady Highlanders to a more comfortable 29-17 edge come halftime.
Matters hardly got any better for the Lady Eagles to begin the second half as they were unable to knock down a single field goal in the period. The Lady Eagles scored only three points in the quarter, all of which came from Buckel free throws. The Lady Highlanders used this to their advantage as Kaiser notched another six of her team-high 16 points while sophomore Reese Stiles chipped in with a free throw to give the Lady Highlanders a 36-20 edge.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much different for the Lady Eagles despite scoring nine points in the period, five of which came from a three and a pair of free throws from Erin Lee. A Haylee Collins bucket and a made free throw from both Evelynn Ousley and Lizzy Baker capped off the Lady Eagles’ scoring. A three-point play from Kaiser, a field goal courtesy of Natalya Gaines and freebies from Emerson and freshman Ava Hausz finished the scoring for the Lady Highlanders as they notched their first victory of the year.
“We got three games this (past) week. We practice (last Wednesday), then we got a game on Thursday, another practice Friday, game Saturday,” Gianfagna said. “It’s basically about trying to get better every day because we have a young team, and we’re putting a lot of young kids in there in different spots, so we’re just trying to get better each day.”
Alongside Kaiser’s 16, Miller chipped in eight points, six of which came from downtown, while Gibson added seven. Buckel paced the Lady Eagles with 11 points, while Furnish and Lee each chipped in five.
The Lady Highlanders moved to 2-2 on the season after falling to Class 3A No. 14 Charlestown 47-31 on Thursday, followed by defeating Evansville Harrison 71-28 on Saturday.
Floyd Central’s next stop will be Scottsburg tomorrow (Thursday) to confront the Warriorettes at 7:30 p.m.
Austin 7 10 3 9 – 29
Floyd Central 13 16 7 7 – 43
Austin (1-2) – Buckel 11, Lee 5, Furnish 5, Baker 3, Bush 2, Collins 2, Ousley 1.
Floyd Central (1-1) – Kaiser 16, Miller 8, Gibson 7, Emerson 5, Brown 3, Gaines 2, Hausz 1, Stiles 1.
3-point goals – Austin 2 (Furnish 1, Lee 1); Floyd Central 3 (Miller 2, Gibson 1).