WINDER — An easy win it was. A comfortable game it was not.
Madison County (21-5) beat Rockdale County 71-26 Friday in a rough-and-tumble affair to advance to the region semifinals Tuesday against Loganville (18-8) in Winder.
The victory also clinched a fourth-straight state tournament appearance for the Lady Raiders.
Rockdale County (5-18) racked up in the foul department, committing three intentional fouls — two in the first half — while sending the Lady Raiders to the floor hard on several occasions.
Madison County shot 42 free throws, hitting 32 of them.
The Lady Bulldogs’ physical play was expected.
“We knew this coming in,” Lady Raider coach Dan Lampe said. “We scouted them.”
But Madison County stepped up to the challenge — bypassing three-point shots, driving hard into the paint and drawing fouls.
The Lady Raiders hit 20-of-26 free throw attempts in the first half and took a 37-18 lead into the locker room.
“That’s the main thing,” Lampe said. “We didn’t settle for the outside shot.”
Courtney Freeman led a trio of scorers in double figures, finishing with 20 points. Lauren Smith added 16 and Shantydra Arnold threw in 13.
Nine different players scored as Lampe slowly worked his subs in during the fourth quarter.
Madison County allowed just eight points in the second half and picked up 20 steals in the game, compared to just eight turnovers.
“That’s a great ratio,” Lampe said. “I can definitely live with that.”
Now the Lady Raiders gear up for Loganville, which Madison County beat 54-51 earlier this year. The game is at 7 p.m. this Tuesday.
“They’re solid,” Lampe said. “They’ll be a different team than this (Rockdale County).”
After an 11-5 start, Madison County goes into the game as winners of 10 straight. Though it might have played lackadaisical at times earlier this year, the team understands the stakes are high right now, Lampe said.
“When the season is on the line … the girls came in focused,” Lampe said.
Madison County managed to take care of business on a day — Friday the 13th — when Region 8-AAAA’s other no. 1 seed tumbled.
Cedar Shoals stunned Salem 58-46, knocking the Lady Seminoles out of the tournament. Salem beat Madison County by three points earlier this year.
“That was huge,” Lampe said, adding that he would have liked to have had another shot at Salem.
MCHS 71, Rockdale Co. 26
RCHS 11 7 5 3 -- 26
MCHS 22 15 17 17 -- 71
Scorers: C. Freeman 20, Smith 16, Arnold 13, K. Freeman 6, LaZear 6, Atkinson 3, Whieldon 3, Fleming 2, Glaze 2