NEW ALBANY — Despite a strong comeback and hard-fought second half, Jennings County fell 52-46 to Floyd Central in a sectional semifinal at New Albany High School on Friday night.
In a game where neither team was knocking down shots from the perimeter, transition points and post play proved crucial.
Floyd Central started out quick, running its fast-paced, strong transition offense that took the Highlanders on a 16-2 run to start the contest.
Jennings County eventually warmed up to the Highlanders’ pace, responding with a 12-4 run of its own to come within five points of Floyd Central late in the second quarter.
Although the Panthers stayed within 10 points through most of the third quarter, the points that were lost in transition to Floyd Central proved costly in the final quarter.
“We like to get up the floor; however, we don’t really have the ball handlers that we would like to have to run a quicker pace,” said Jennings County head coach Carrie Manowitz. “We let them speed us up, leading to bad decisions and turnovers.”
In a fourth quarter that lasted as long as the first half and featured nearly 20 combined team fouls, Jennings County fought to the final buzzer but never took the lead.
“It was a good effort in the second half,” Manowitz said. “We have worked hard all year, but tonight they just did not take care of the ball.”
Jennings County (8-13) committed costly turnovers against Floyd Central’s full-court press in the fourth quarter, as well as struggling with outside shooting on the offensive end.
Junior Kirsten Biggs and sophomore Baylee Krueger led Jennings County with 14 points a piece, followed by junior Emma Campbell with six.
Although she has seen the end to her season, Manowitz knows her team has come a long way from its winless 2011-12 season.
“Not winning a game last year and then coming back and winning eight is obviously a huge improvement,” Manowitz said. “We felt like we had four or five additional games that we were in a position to win as well, and last year we just could not get in that position.”
Manowitz emphasized the need for a leader, as well as an improved mental toughness.
“It is not really a matter of what we are capable of, but rather our mental focus,” Manowitz said. “We need someone that can lead the team consistently so that we have the confidence and mental ability to win games.”
Madison Kaiser led the Highlanders with 19 points, followed by Victoria Kinsley with 14.