TUNNEL HILL – A put back by Caitlyn Arwood in the middle of the fourth quarter gave the Madison County girls’ basketball team a 46-42 lead over Northwest Whitfield.
The shot off the rebound was the fourth made shot in a 9-0 run which saw the Red Raiders erase a 42-37 deficit to claim the lead. All of the momentum was on the side of the No. 4 seed Red Raiders, but that would end up being their last successful shot of the contest. Northwest Whitfield ended the game on a 10-0 run to win 52-46, knocking Madison County out of the AAAA State Playoffs.
“They (Northwest Whitfield) played the type of defense everyone has played against us,” said head coach Dan Lampe. “Tight 1-2-2 zone, contest the three ball anytime she comes over half court. That was the key, this team matched up well against us in what they naturally do.We’re not getting our tempo. We did in the first half but didn’t in the second half. We didn’t get any steals for layups.
“I felt like we faltered here in the last three weeks, but that’s exactly when we lost Keia Cooper.”
The six-point final score matched Northwest Whitfield’s largest lead throughout the game. Madison County rallied in both instances. The first instance came in the middle of the third quarter when Northwest Whitfield took the lead from Madison County and stretched it to 34-28. A three-pointer by Arwood and a jumper by Tiffany Wilson cut the lead down to 34-33. The Bruins led 39-33 late in the fourth quarter before a pair of layups by Kayla McPherson cut the score to 39-37 at the end of the quarter.
Absent from the game was McPherson’s typical late game scoring runs. She finished the game with 23 points, but only had one trip to the foul line despite driving through contact multiple times. Arwood stepped up with 13 points and Wilson added eight.
The good news for Madison County is that the team returns all but one player. McPherson returns for her senior year along with Arwood and Ella Chancey. Wilson returns for her junior season.
“We talked in the locker room about how much we’ve improved from last summer to this point,” Lampe said. “If we can just do that from this point to this time next year, we’re going to be a really good team.
“Even though we don’t feel like it now, we’re all mad about the game, in retrospect, we’re going to see how much we improved and how much ability we have.”