Floyd Central’s season came to end Tuesday night by way of a 45-38 loss to Jennings County in the Sectional 15 opener.
The Highlanders, tournament hosts, dug an early hole and couldn’t hang on to a late lead as the Panthers (10-14) used a combined 34 points from senior Lindsey Gerkin and junior Callie Wilder to clinch a spot in Friday’s semifinal round versus New Albany (15-6) at 6 p.m.
Floyd Central, meanwhile, finished its season 13-11. The Highlanders have now dropped four consecutive postseason openers.
Sophomore Grace Hale led Floyd Central Tuesday with nine points and six rebounds, and freshman Lindsey Dorsch added eight. In their final game for the Highlanders, seniors CJ Clark and Grace Fitzgerald totaled four points apiece on a combined 3-for-15 shooting.
“We dug a hole and we had to climb uphill the whole game,” Floyd Central coach Kirk Hamsley said. “We took the lead a couple times but couldn’t keep it. Clark never really got going, so that hurt us. We had to rely on some other kids to score that don’t normally score. … (Jennings County) did a nice job of taking Fitzgerald away and making her work hard for her shots.”
Hamsley’s bunch lost five of seven to conclude the season – due in part to an injury bug, the six-year Highlanders coach said. Nevertheless, Floyd Central’s 13 wins are its most since the 2009-10 season.
“Thirteen wins this year was great for this group of kids,” Hamsley said. “Most people don’t know Fitzgerald has a torn meniscus. Clark has a separated shoulder. (Sophomore Sophia) Gianfagna is out with an ACL tear. She’s already had the surgery. … Those kids will get healthy. We lose Clark and Fitzgerald, who did a lot for us, but we’ll replace them with the freshman we have coming up. I think we’re on the way up, definitely. The kids really improved.”
The hosts trailed 6-0 midway through the first quarter behind an 0-for-4 shooting clip and two early turnovers. Hale opened scoring for Floyd Central with 2:27 showing, but the Highlanders found themselves in an 11-3 hole heading into the second.
Floyd Central went 1-for-9 in the opening period but began the second quarter on a 6-0 run to cut its deficit to 11-9 two minutes in. Jennings County responded with a 6-0 run of its own, but the Highlanders wouldn’t go away. Floyd Central inched back within 17-15 with two minutes left in the half, and a 3-pointer from Dorsch later made the 20-18 halftime score. The hosts made 7 of 12 shots in the second quarter all the while forcing four turnovers.
Fitzgerald’s first points got Floyd Central going in the third, and a bucket from Hale gave the Highlanders their first lead at 23-22 with 5:59 on the clock. After three quarters, though, Jennings County led 29-28 as junior Alexus Brown notched a layup right before the buzzer.
With 7:09 left, Floyd Central regained the lead on an elbow jumper from Clark, who missed her first eight shots. A Fitzgerald free throw on the ensuing possession gave the hosts their largest lead, but it would prove to be the Highlanders’ final advantage. Gerkin and Wilder orchestrated a 6-0 run, and despite Clark’s answer on the other end, Jennings County led 39-33 with 3:47 left.
“It was just one of those nights,” Hamsley said. “ … The free-throw line is 4 of 15. We just didn’t get the kids going that needed to get going. That’s on me. That’s my fault. We didn’t have people in the right spots.”
Yet another layup from Hale cut Floyd Central’s deficit to 40-36 with 1:37 remaining, but the Highlanders couldn’t convert down the stretch. They went 4 of 6 from the field in the fourth quarter but made just 2 of 7 free throws.
Hamsley is confident in the future of the program, but the contributions he got from his two seniors will not soon be forgotten.
“Losing Clark and Fitzgerald will be big because they’re leaders,” Hamsley said. “Clark has an edge about her. The rest of these kids need that. Fitzgerald just has a motor. She plays hard all the time. … They’ve just been leaders this year, and they bought into wanting to do that.”
BNL sets meeting with Jeff
Bedford North Lawrence, ranked No. 9 in the final Class 4A AP poll, turned in a 56-42 win over Seymour in Game 2 of Sectional 15 at Floyd Central Tuesday night. Sophomore 6-foot-1 center Jorie Allen totaled a game-high 25 points for the Stars, and senior Kennedy Bunch added 18.
BNL (18-5) advances to a semifinal matchup with Jeffersonville (16-7) on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Red Devils edged BNL 43-34 on Nov. 19.
Sectional 15 at Floyd Central
Jennings County 45, Floyd Central 38
Panthers (10-14): Sidney Gerkin 17p, 4r, 4a; Callie Wilder 17p, 5r; Alexus Brown 4p, 4r; Kylee Matern 4p; Macy Roth 3p; Eliza Gasper 1p
Highlanders (13-11): Grace Hale 9p, 6r; Lindsey Dorsch 8p, 2r; Lois Endris 7p, 3r; CJ Clark 4p, 6r; Grace Fitzgerald 4p, 2a; Mackenzie Hashem 4p; Kalissa Fosskuhl 2p
BNL 56, Seymour 42
Stars (18-4): Jorie Allen 25p; Kennedy Bunch 18p; McKenzie Messmore 6p; Allie Fugate 4p, Allie Crulo-rood 2p; Jacy Hughes 1p
Owls (15-9): Sarah Benefiel 10p; Lauren James 10p; Makenna Fee 10p; Kayla Griffin 8p; Ashton Chase 2p; Megan Ritz 2p