LAPEL — The Lapel girls basketball team has lost only four games this season, but Saturday’s loss to Anderson in the Madison County tournament final may have been the toughest. The Indians left the Lapel gym with a 56-50 win and their third consecutive county title.
“Never is an easy one when you lose,” coach Zach Newby said.
The Bulldogs never led in the game but never gave up amid facing off with Anderson’s Tyra Ford, who is in the top 15 in the state in scoring.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]
A change in defense in the second half held Ford’s scoring to 6 from the field. However, Ford was perfect from the free throw line in the final two quarters.
Down in the opening quarter 12-3, the Bulldogs went on a run and ended the first quarter down 16-14, and despite a dry scoring spell in the second quarter, the Bulldogs ended the half with a 9-point deficit.
“We struggled in the half court all night. The second and third quarters really killed us,” Newby said.
As the fourth quarter was winding down, the Bulldogs begin chipping away at the Anderson lead on the play of seniors Makynlee Taylor, who had 13 points and nine rebounds for the game, and Delany Peoples, who had 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs closed to within 3 on a Lily Daniels 3-pointer, but a foul sent Anderson’s Ford to the line. Ford hit both ends of a one-and-one, and the lead was back to five.
“We were trying to get as many possessions as we could,” Newby said. “I knew they were going to hold it.”
Junior Makayla McDole hit a 3 with only 35 seconds remaining in the game to bring the Bulldogs within range at 53-50, but in the waning seconds, Anderson’s Ford sunk the free throws to end Lapel’s opportunity for a county title.
Newby said they didn’t approach the Indians with a different game plan than usual.
“We thought we had a good shot. We started out in zone, and they were banking in shots. If those off-target shots weren’t banking in, then we’re feeling a lot better.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, I guess,” Newby said. “Those bounces didn’t go our way, and that cost us.”
Lapel entered into the title game by defeating Frankton in the first round, 60-34, and Pendleton Heights in the semifinals, 53-52.
As the season winds down toward the sectional, the Bulldogs are headed in the right direction, according to Newby. “We’re playing fine.”
The Bulldogs play host to Shenandoah Jan. 16 and face off again with Pendleton Heights on Jan. 21.