Lady Raider hoops team hopes defense can set the tone for remainder of the season
Madison County may have the makings of another memorable February if it continues to play defense the way it did Tuesday night.
The Lady Raiders (16-5 overall, 5-1 subregion) beat Cedar Shoals 40-25, surrendering just nine points in the second half, as the all-important Feb. 12-20 region tournament nears.
Coach Dan Lampe called Tuesday’s victory a focused effort, noting that his squad didn’t allow Cedar Shoals to get to the hoop nearly as much as it did in the first meeting, a 58-54 Madison County victory back on Jan. 8.
“We really made a concerted effort to stop dribble penetration,” Lampe said.
Lampe specifically pointed to the play of senior Juvonna Fleming, who requests the team’s toughest defensive assignments each night.
Fleming limited Cedar Shoals’ Whitley Smith to six points Tuesday.
“Juvonna Fleming has really stepped up as the defensive leader on the team,” Lampe said.
But Tuesday’s defensive performance was also the product of everyone circling the wagons, Lampe said.
“When you talk about defense, it’s so much about the girls helping out,” Lampe said.
Offensively, Lauren Smith scored 18 points to account for nearly half the Lady Raiders’ production. She was the only Madison County player in double figures.
“On a night that nobody else was hitting, it was good that she did,” Lampe said.
Madison County remains in second place in 8-AAAA North with the victory. The Lady Raiders, who have four subregion games remaining, move on to play Winder-Barrow Friday on the road.
Madison County can still mathematically win its subregion, but it’s going to take some help. First-place Clarke Central would have to lose twice in subregion play to open the door for the Lady Raiders. The Lady Gladiators have already beaten Madison County once and own a better record against the other side of the region, which counts as a tie-breaker should the teams finish with identical subregion records.
But if Madison County wins out, it’s assured no worse than a second seed in the region tournament, and the Lady Raiders are intent on finishing strong.
“You’ve got to stay focused this time of year,” Lampe said. “A hiccup can cost you.”
And this has been a good time of year for Madison County.
The Lady Raiders are 19-3 during the month of February since 2007, a tradition they hope to continues.
Of course, it all starts with defense.
“If we can keeping playing defense like that, we can make some noise,” Lampe said.
•Madison Co. 53, Habersham Central 36 (Jan. 22): Bolstered by a decent effort from beyond the 3-point arc, Madison County defeated Habersham Central 53-36 Friday in Danielsville for its fourth subregion victory.
Madison County hit five 3-pointers and led by as much as 22 points as it rebounded from a loss to Clarke Central three days earlier.
Molly Glaze led the Lady Raiders with 13 points, followed by Shantydra Arnold and Lauren Smith, who both scored 10 points.
Madison County hit three 3-pointers against Habersham Central’s zone defense in the first quarter and led by as much as 15 in the first half.
The Lady Raiders kept Habersham Central at arm’s length in the second half and put together a 10-2 run in the fourth quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Glaze with 2:03 left, to lead 53-31.