ATHENS — It wouldn’t be a subregion championship without drama, would it?
Madison County certainly supplied that — a little more than coach Dan Lampe would have liked — in dethroning defending champion Clarke Central with a 55-51 win Friday in Athens.
“I don’t feel like we played our ‘A’ game … But it’s good to get an ugly win every now and then against a top team like Clarke at Clarke,” Lampe said.
The Lady Raiders rallied from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter to earn the no. 1 seed heading into this week’s region tournament.
Madison County held Clarke Central to just one point in the last 4:12.
Down 53-51 with 14.4 seconds left, Clarke Central had a chance to tie the game or take a lead. However, Madison County forced a five-second violation as the Lady Gladiators failed to inbound the ball.
Clarke Central fouled Lauren Smith seconds later, and she canned two clutch free throws to seal the victory.
The Lady Raiders won despite their best player being plagued with foul trouble.
Courtney Freeman picked up her fourth foul with 5:30 left in the third quarter and sat for the rest of the period. She finished with 10 points.
The senior played only two-and-a-half quarters.
“I can’t remember the last time we had to worry about Courtney in foul trouble,” Lampe said. “It may go way back.”
But others stepped up.
Kayla Freeman scored 18 points to lead the team, while Smith bolstered Madison County with three three-pointers and 17 points.
Shantydra Arnold added eight, hitting four clutch free throws in the second half.
“She took us to the rim hard, got us to the foul line twice and hit all four shots,” Lampe said. “That really turned it right there. She was the momentum changer with just those two drives.”
Kayla Freeman scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half as Madison County held a commanding 32-24 advantage at intermission.
But the lead disintegrated in the third quarter.
Clarke Central held Madison County without a point for the first 4:40 and limited the Lady Raiders to just four points the entire period.
“I think we played a little tight,” Lampe said.
A subregion title appeared in jeopardy in the fourth quarter when Madison County trailed 50-44 with 4:21 left.
But the Lady Raiders scored nine straight points to take a 53-50 lead with 44 seconds left.