The Madison Southern girls basketball team celebrate with the trophy in hand after they defeated Madison Central 53-39 to win the 44th District title for the third time in school history last Friday night at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena. The Lady Eagles (16-13) are scheduled to play host to Henry Clay in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament at 7 Thursday night at the Eagles’ Nest. Southern also won the district title in 2007 and 2015.
Before the tipoff of last week’s 44th District Championship game versus Madison Central, Madison Southern Coach Summer Simmons briefly mistook her team’s look of determination to be a sign that her team was “too tight.”
“There were some visible nerves during the first trips, offensively,” Simmons said. “But I felt like the girls were playing fearless and enjoying the game.”
Soon, any fears were alleviated as the Lady Eagles turned up the defensive heat and broke open a tight 27-24 halftime advantage and outscored their cross-county rivals 26-15 in the second half to earn a 53-39 win. It was the program’s first district title since 2015.
“Even when Central cut the leads, I didn’t see any fear in (her team’s) eyes,” Simmons said. “I knew it would be a close game at times because Central has some athletes and if we turned the ball over or didn’t hit our shots, they would convert those into layups. But we kept our heads and executed our game plan.”
Southern had four players named to the All-Tournament team, including Samantha Cornelison who was named tournament MVP.
Zaria Carter, Aleigh Richardson, and Sunni Walters also made the All-Tournament team.
In the district title game, Cornelison scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Walters added 12 points, while Carter finished with six points and nine rebounds. Richardson also finished with four points and six rebounds.
Up next for the Lady Eagles (16-13) is a first-round matchup with Henry Clay (17-13) in the 11th Region Tournament Thursday night at Southern. The Lady Eagles are seeking the school’s first-ever region championship. Its lone region tournament win came in 2015 over Lexington Catholic, according to Simmons.
“Henry Clay is a good team, and we will have to play our best game, but I feel like our players are so focused as they have ever been,” Simmons said. “I feel confident in our ability to compete and hopefully win and advance.”
Game time for the Southern-Henry Clay game is 7 p.m.
Eagles’ season comes to close
Heading into the first round 11th Region game against Henry Clay, Madison Southern Coach Austin Newton knew his team would have its hands full, and he was right. The Eagles’ season ended Monday night with an 82-57 loss.
“Henry Clay has proven they are one of the best, if not the best team in the state,” Newton said. “They hit nine three-point shots in the first half against us, (and) we did not locate and contest their shooters well enough early in the game.”
Southern finished 16-17 on the season, but Newton said much was accomplished during the 2018-19 campaign that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
“While our record may not reflect a winning season, we have winners in our program,” Newton said. “We have boys that are becoming men through hard work, serving their community, and being great teammates.”
Also, Southern will graduate three seniors, but Newton said 98 percent of the team’s scoring would return for the 2019-2020 season. Between now and then, the focus will be working in the gym and weight room to compete against teams in the 11th Region.
Several Eagles received tournament recognition as Britton Robinson, Hunter Buchanan, and Trent Moberly made the All-44th District Team. Moberly made honorable mention in the All-11th Region Team. Moberly lead Southern in scoring against Henry Clay with 21 points.