A valiant Lady Raider rally fell short Tuesday night — and so did the team's hoop dreams.
Madison County (24-6) stormed back from 16 points down at home Tuesday, but couldn’t keep its season alive with a 67-60 loss to defending state champion Southwest DeKalb (26-4) in the second round of the Class AAAA tournament.
Now a Madison County team that had hoped to return to the Gwinnett Arena this year reluctantly looks toward next year.
“Losing this game was disappointing,” said coach Dan Lampe, whose team carried a 13-game winning streak into the ball game. “Our goal was definitely higher than the Sweet 16 … Every team wants to win its last game.”
Doing her part to try to keep the season alive, senior Courtney Freeman scored 26 points against Southwest DeKalb in the final game of her stellar prep career. She finished as the second-leading scorer in school history, surpassing Tracy Rutledge back during the region tournament.
Kayla Freeman and Shantydra Arnold each added 12 points and Lauren Smith scored 10.
The Lady Raiders didn’t help their chances in the first half.
Madison County trailed 39-23 at one point in the second quarter and faced a 14-point deficit at the half before turning things around.
“We said we wanted to get it back into single digits by the fourth quarter,” Lampe said of his halftime speech.
Lampe’s Lady Raiders responded with a spirited second half.
Madison County chopped the lead to eight at the end of the third and tied the ball game at 55 with 3:08 left after a bucket from Kayla Freeman.
“I like the way our girls fought back,” Lampe said. “They have a fighter's spirit.”
However, the younger Freeman fouled out moments later and Southwest DeKalb hit just enough free throws in the last two minutes to leave Danielsville with a victory.
Lampe estimated that Madison County likely outscored Southwest DeKalb by eight to 10 points while Kayla Freeman was in the ball game alongside Courtney Freeman. However, Kayla’s play was limited due to foul trouble, creating match-up problems when she had to exit the game.
“We didn’t have an answer for all their “bigs” out there,” Lampe said.
The coach added that Southwest DeKalb “owned us on the boards.”
“That’s something we’ve got to address going into next season,” Lampe said.