Register Sports Editor
MADISON COUNTY —
The Madison Southern coaching staff knew the Lady Eagles simply didn’t have the size to handle Lafayette’s two outstanding post players — Sarah Cooley and Ashanti Thomas.
So, the gameplan heading into Thursday’s 11th Region Tournament showdown at McBrayer Arena was to pack in a zone and force the Lady Generals to shoot from the perimeter.
That strategy didn’t work.
Lafayette (20-12) hit five first-half three-pointers and still dominated in the paint. The Lady Generals had four players reach double figures and rolled past the Lady Eagles, 71-28.
Southern (12-20) was out-scored 40-8 in the paint as Cooley and Thomas combined for 19 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks.
“They hit a bunch of threes,” Southern coach Summer Simmons said. “They moved the ball really well and found the open man.”
The Lady Generals advance to the semifinals to take on Franklin County on Saturday.
Lafayette jumped on top early and never let up, building a 37-point halftime lead (48-11).
The Lady Generals had a 7-0 lead inside the first 90 seconds and after a basket by Southern’s Samantha Parms they went on a 13-0 run capped by back-to-back-to-back three-pointers by Dee Givens, Ken’yale Demus and Kiara Pankins.
“Those threes just killed our confidence,” Simmons said.
The Lady Eagles trailed 26-7 after a Kelley Freeman basket with 1:20 left in the first quarter, but they didn’t score again for almost seven minutes. Lafayette scored 16-straight points to take a commanding 42-9 lead with 2:31 left before halftime.
Lafayette shot 72 percent from the field in the first quarter (13-of-18, including three-of-four from three-point range).
Dee Givens (11 points) and Ken’yale Demus (nine points) each had more points in the opening quarter than Southern (seven).
Southern was two-of-12 from the field in the first quarter and shot just 11 percent in the first half — three-of-27. The Lady Eagles also had 13 first-half turnovers and were out-scored in the paint 26-0.
“We don’t usually see two big, skilled players like that in the same game,” Simmons said. “We never knew what moves they were going to make and they are good at pick-and-rolls. They got a lot of mismatches.”
Southern shot just 21 percent for the game (10-of-46, 2-of-17 from three-point range) and out was out-rebounded 36-28.
Lafayette dominated almost every statistical category. The Lady Generals had 40 points in the points (Southern had eight) and forced 19 turnovers, which led to 24 points.
Givens led Lafayette with 18 points, Cooley had 14 points, Pankins had 13 points and Demus had 11 points.
Senior Hayden Westfall had seven points and six rebounds for Southern. Briana Lanham had seven points, Parms had six points, while Freeman and senior Sarah Smith had four points each.
Freeman, Lanham and Parms played all 32 minutes.
“My girls played hard,” Simmons said. “It would be human nature to hang your head, but they don’t. They keep plugging along and do the best they can. I’m proud of them.”